Art and culture in the time of COVID-19

Convenor: Carlo Bonura, SOAS University of London

This panel will explore the state of the arts, filmmaking, culture, and media in Southeast Asia as the COVID-19 pandemic begins to subside. In particular, it will focus on the effects of the pandemic on artists and cultural producers, their practice, and the publics they rely upon.

Contributions to this panel can focus on responses to the pandemic as well as the strategies employed to survive COVID-19 and its public restrictions. Participants could also analyse the long-term effects of the pandemic on the virtual or physical sites of culture such as cultural venues, festivals, exhibitions, collective spaces, or independent media.

It is also important to examine the role of the state when considering the future of arts and cultural production in Southeast Asia. What responses will Southeast Asian states have to the potential decline of arts and culture sectors? Even in cases where states may prioritise some support for arts and culture, cultural ministries actively define acceptable forms of culture deserving of state support. A growing reliance on state funding or support for tourism may reduce the hard-fought autonomy of independent cultural producers. More broadly, the pandemic has taken place during a time of increasing autocracy in Southeast Asia that has intensified through the imposition of pandemic-
related emergency measures. Have artists and cultural activists been subject to closer scrutiny during this crisis? Will worsening autocracy increase pressure on those artists whose work is recognisably political?

This panel invites academic treatments of the effects of the pandemic on cultural production as well as contributions by artists, culture makers, and cultural activists on how the pandemic has shaped their communities.

To submit a paper proposal to this panel please send an abstract of 300 words and a short biographical statement to by 8 July 2022