Society and Pandemic Working Group

Photo Courtesy of Francisco Perez/Stories from the Pandemic.


Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.

—Arundhati Roy

Photo Courtesy of Pocharapon Neammanee/Stories from the Pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its erratic global response have revealed a wide range of vulnerabilities in healthcare systems worldwide, spread panic and fear, and exposed the deep inequalities and uneven risks across populations at the national and global levels. Situated in one of the epicenters of the pandemic, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey strongly felt these impacts. 



The Society and Pandemic Working Group is a Rutgers faculty-led platform that came together in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. It has brought together interdisciplinary scholars from departments across Rutgers’ three campuses (Camden, Newark, New Brunswick) to share knowledge about research and pedagogy during the pandemic. Our goal is to build collaborative networks across disciplines, with a focus on the social sciences and humanities. 



Since April 2020, the group has held meetings that have brought forth new collaborative research opportunities and documentary projects that explore the sociopolitical, economic, and technological impacts of COVID-19 on communities and societies.

Photo Courtesy of Daniel Han/Stories from the Pandemic.In addition to its local and regional interests, the group brings in research expertise from across the globe to carefully monitor the unfolding of pandemic and its responses internationally.

Our current sub-groups are exploring topics related to:

  • Immigration and mobility
  • Incarceration and confinement
  • Production and circulation of knowledge about the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Stories of the pandemic's impacts on everyday life in the NJ/NY area

The Society and Pandemic Working group is currently coordinated by Professor Omar Dewachi (Department of Anthropology-New Brunswick). This faculty-led collaborative currently includes 45 members and growing from the Rutgers University community.