Legal Geography

Adebayo, Kudus Oluwatoyin, ‘Pandemics and Management of “Dangerous Communities”: Ebola, COVID-19, and Africans in China’ (2023) 75(1) The Professional Geographer 164–174
Abstract: How do we unpack and make sense of anti-African/Black sentiments in the pandemic control and mitigation practices in China? This article responds to the question by drawing a parallel between the experiences of Africans in China during the Ebola virus disease and COVID-19 outbreaks. Focusing specifically on Nigerians as a subsection of the African community in Guangzhou City, China, it explores how the COVID-19-inspired discrimination against Africans reflects much of the experiences of Africans in China during the Ebola crisis of 2014. The article combines sixteen ‘Ebola experience’ data points, obtained from Nigerians in Guangzhou in 2017, with four COVID-19 experience virtual interviews, media reports, and social media archive and netnographic analysis covering April to June 2020. The experiences of Africans in Guangzhou in the early months of the COVID-19 outbreak reflect a patterned response to Africans and Blackness in the context of pandemic in China. The article contributes to the literature by examining the question of racial discrimination and the construction of African immigrant community in China as dangerous within the new geography of Afro-mobilities in East Asia.

Alemanno, Alberto and Luiza Bialasiewicz, ‘Certifying Health. The Unequal Legal Geographies of COVID-19 Certificates’ (2021) 12(Special Issue 2) European Journal of Risk Regulation 273–286
Abstract: This article discusses some of the challenges posed by the introduction of COVID-19 certificates as a privileged tool to open up mobility and access in order to restore a semblance of normality to social life. While at present there is no international consensus neither on how – or why – such certificates should be used, nor on how they should be designed and applied, a growing number of countries have already introduced COVID-19 certificates in one form or another. Yet the scientific community as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO) have expressed caution, noting that such certificates might disproportionately discriminate against people on the basis of race, religion and socioeconomic background, as well as on the basis of age due to the sequencing of the vaccine rollout. Indeed, while the new COVID-19 certificates may appear to promise a magical solution to freeing global mobility and re-opening economies, they actually risk creating new borders and new forms of inequality through an exclusionary sorting and profiling mechanism that delimits ‘safe’ from ‘unsafe’ bodies, based on differential access to ‘immuno-privilege’ – but also differential forms of ‘bio-securitization’. They also provide an illusion of pandemic safety – assuring citizens that through the ‘fetish’ of the certificate ‘safe travel’ could magically be re-instated. Securing territories and populations has always been, in Foucauldian terms, a matter of ‘making a division between good and bad circulation and maximizing the good circulation by diminishing the bad’. We can therefore reasonably expect growing contestation, including before courts, around COVID-19 certificates in their different national and international iterations, as their inherently discriminatory nature, and other unintended consequences such as those stemming from the use of persuasive – as opposed to the more traditional coercive – governmental power, begin to unfold in their performative trajectory.

Essert, Christopher, ‘The Nature and Value of Public Space (With Some Lessons from the Pandemic)’ (2022) 50(1) Fordham Urban Law Journal 61–103
Abstract: Many people share the intuition that there is something unique and uniquely valuable about public space. That intuition is often latent, but some of the policies put in place in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially during the pre-vaccine period when being outside was generally safer than being inside, brought it to the surface, along with a series of important questions about the role of public space in a democratic society. In this Article, I offer an account of the nature and value of public space. I argue that public space is a unique site for people to come together as members of the public, a place to interact in space that no private person is in charge of. Public space is unique in being a space where no private person can tell others how they may act. As such it realizes a distinctive form of democratic egalitarianism, allowing and requiring us to determine how we can and must relate as equals in space. Seeing public space as democratic and egalitarian in this way is important for conceiving of the proper form of its regulation, as we can see by recalling various pandemic related regulations.

Marshall, Jill, ‘Law, Everyday Spaces and Objects, and Being Human’ in Carl F Stychin (ed),Law, Humanities and the COVID Crisis (University of London Press, 2023) 231 [OPEN ACCESS BOOK]
Abstract: In this chapter I identify, and draw on, connections between law, space and objects arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is part of my project exploring and probing law’s functions and the ways in which law shapes our understandings of who we are, of human freedom, identity and ways of life.

Rose-Redwood, Reuben et al, ‘Geographies of the COVID-19 Pandemic’ (2020) 10(2) Dialogues in Human Geography 97–106
Abstract: The spread of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has resulted in the most devastating global public health crisis in over a century. At present, over 10 million people from around the world have contracted the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), leading to more than 500,000 deaths globally. The global health crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic has been compounded by political, economic, and social crises that have exacerbated existing inequalities and disproportionately affected the most vulnerable segments of society. The global pandemic has had profoundly geographical consequences, and as the current crisis continues to unfold, there is a pressing need for geographers and other scholars to critically examine its fallout. This introductory article provides an overview of the current special issue on the geographies of the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes 42 commentaries written by contributors from across the globe. Collectively, the contributions in this special issue highlight the diverse theoretical perspectives, methodological approaches, and thematic foci that geographical scholarship can offer to better understand the uneven geographies of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.

Tedeschi, Miriam, ‘The Body and the Law across Borders during the COVID-19 Pandemic’ (2020) 10(2) Dialogues in Human Geography 178–181
Abstract: Drawing on non-representational theories in geography and beyond, this commentary provides an autoethnographic account of the material and spatial dimensions of the law as well as its effects and affects on bodies in-between two countries, Italy and Finland, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tzouvala, Nina, ‘The Combined and Uneven Geography of COVID-19, or On Law, Capitalism and Disease’ in Barrie Sander and Jason Rudall (eds), Opinio Juris Symposium on COVID-19 and International Law (2020)
Abstract: Extract from Introduction: Francisco de Vitoria was obsessed with food. I do not refer here to his private habits, but rather to the importance he assigned to the consumption of raw food and cannibalism (real or imagined) as markers of savagery. Indeed, imaginaries of cannibalism were central to the imperialist imaginary, including that of international lawyers, and were often mobilised to signify racial difference and justify the domination over and exploitation of non-European peoples. In this respect, there is something familiar about the current obsession and moral panic about Chinese dietary habits and their links to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, there is a crucial difference between present and past obsessions with food in international law and politics, with the former operating as a form of displacement. Let me explain: focusing on Chinese wet markets and eating habits comes with an implicit or explicit attribution of the outbreak to Asian backwardness, primitiveness and (economic, cultural, moral) under-development. However, it is not Chinese backwardness or underdevelopment that render this (and previous) coronavirus so dangerous, but quite the opposite: the country’s rapid capitalist development and increased incorporation into the global circuits of capital.

Young, Alison, ‘“Stay Safe, Stay Home”: Spatial Justice in the Pandemic City’ (2021) 1(1) Legalities 19–43
Abstract: How does spatial justice take place within cities? To understand spatial justice within a city under lockdown, this article considers both the ‘corporeal emplacements’ within spaces identified by Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (2015) and the ‘material geographies’ ( Soja 2010) essential to understanding spatial justice in everyday life in contemporary cities. Several of the material localities arising during the ‘stay home’ orders of the State of Emergency in Victoria are considered; namely, first, the shared spaces of the street visited by individuals on their permitted forays from home; second, the domestic space of the home; third, the spaces occupied by or allocated to those who lack stable housing; and, finally, hotel rooms, used during the pandemic to house people experiencing homelessness, returned travellers in quarantine, and evacuated detainees. Close examination of such places reveals fault lines of social stratification, linguistic and representational boundary lines regulating their governance, and the stakes of seeking to achieve spatial justice in the pandemic city.

Zbyszewska, Ania and Sharifah Sekalala, ‘Towards a Feminist Geo-Legal Ethic of Caring Within Medical Supply Chains: Lessons from Careless Supply During the COVID-19 Pandemic’ [2023] Feminist Legal Studies (advance article, published online 1 February 2023)
Abstract: The COVID-19 crisis illustrates the fragility of supply chains. Countries with excellent health systems struggled to ensure essential supplies of food, medicines, and personal protective equipment which were vital to a fast and effective response. Using geo-legality, which maps the constitutive relations between law and space, we argue that the failure of supply chains in many western countries during the crisis reveals a fundamental tension between their role as facilitators of care and caring, and the logistic logics by which they operate. While supply chains link the intimate, domestic concerns of providing medical care with the globalised geographical concerns of moving goods across different jurisdictions at the right time, their contemporary organisation and regulation does not reflect the caring relations and public goods they are meant to support. Drawing on analysis of examples from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, this article argues that a reconfiguration of supply chains in accordance with feminist approaches that place care at the centre of supply chain operation and organisation will be important to amendments of both domestic and global health law.

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