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Photo: “Supermarket social distancing signs“, by Ear-phone, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0. Hue modified from the original

Libal, Kathryn, and Prakash Kashwan. “Solidarity in times of crisis.” Journal of Human Rights 19, no. 5 (2020): 537-546.


The 2019 COVID-19 pandemic has amplified inequalities and human rights challenges; in some states, COVID-19 policies have been introduced that further curtail human rights. Although some limits may be justified in the time of a public health emergency, other rights are vital to secure precisely because of pandemic conditions. Following a discussion of the concept of political solidarity, we examine how COVID-19 has underscored democratic “deficits” and human rights failures within the United States and India. Emergency “stay-at-home” orders and social distancing measures make political dissent challenging, yet this extreme moment has created opportunities for solidarity, initially in restrained ways via the internet or local forms of collective support and protest, and later through mass mobilizations to end racial injustice (in the United States). Our assessment of the challenges and promises of solidarist action in two of the largest democracies offers reasons for guarded optimism.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.