Queen’s international graduate students are contesting a decision by the university to block TA-ships and RA-ships for those of them who cannot be physically in Kingston during the 2020-2021 academic year. The decision, who explicitly targets international students, comes at a time of financial and emotional struggles that compound international graduate student’s pre-covid challenges with high tuition fees and relocation.
GEELs members Claudia Hirtenfelder and Nathalia Santos Ocasio recently spoke with YGK News about the situation:
“The main problem here is that we are enrolled in the university as both students and as workers,” [Claudia] wrote. “Roughly 40% of my funding package is made up of money that is contingent on me working for the university [ … ] Working for the university is literally how I make ends meet.”
Nathalia added that the policy fails to consider the“care responsibilities and networks” that international graduate students have in their home countries.“[W]hen the university asked if we will be in Canada for the duration of the 2020-2021 academic year, they did not take into consideration [ … ] that things can happen throughout this year that force us to go home to attend to our responsibilities.” Nathalia wrote: “Would we lose our jobs and funding if a family member falls ill and requires our care?”
In this op-ed, I argue that the potential silver lining of COVID-19 health measures may be the fostering of a healthier lifestyle and building community resilience through local food options, the interest in plant-based diets, and the move towards home skills activities. These benefits are also contrasted with exacerbated limitations during the pandemic regarding financial and geographical barriers to access. You can access the article here.
In this review for Society & Space, I argue for reading Improvised Lives: Rhythms of Endurance in a Global South as a guidebook for surviving in spaces where we are made to feel increasingly alienated from one another. In the vignettes of urban life presented here, Simone challenges readers to imagine different ways of being together in the city. Ultimately, Simone calls on us to recognize the ways that people live, create, thrive and dream in seemingly “uninhabitable” places.
In April 2020, GEELs Member Claudia Hirtenfelder published an article in La Presse (translated into French by Sylvie St-Jacques). Claudia comments on Canada’s strategies to recruit more international students while they fail to include them in their Covid-19 emergency plans. Ultimately she highlights how the government’s treatment of international students during Covid-19 is just a continuation of a relationship defined by neglect and hypocrisy.
You can access the English version of the article here
When the COVID-19 cases started to appear in Latin America, I was in Chile conducting research about arpilleras, a type of political tapestry that women have been making since the years of the dictatorship to resist economic precarity and state violence. This creative practice proliferated in the context of the political upheaval that erupted in mid-Octuber to denounce social inequalities and demand change. I left Santiago on March 16th and two days later the Chilean government enacted the first state of emergency related to the health crisis. The streets that I saw packed with protestors are now mostly empty as Chileans face the harshest weeks of the pandemic.
However, arpillera makers have continued to create and circulate their tapestries in social media during the quarantine to draw attention to the underlying structures that worsen the health crisis, as well as to resist demobilization. This piece written for NACLA is a message of solidarity with the women that I did not have the chance to hug before leaving Santiago, and a celebration of the transformative work that they do with fabric, needle, and thread, even under harsh conditions like the current pandemic.
We write about how the rush to re-open borders for the sake of the “economy” is putting precarious workers’ lives in danger in Canada and the Caribbean. We address how nation-state borders operate hand-in-hand with borders created between humans – those who are protected, and those whose lives are expendable – in racialized, classed, and gendered ways that naturalize inequality. We ultimately argue that we need to re-think the privileging of ‘the economy’ and think, instead, from the lives of those most precarious.