Conference: COVID-19 in Europe

What's to come for Europe in the post-COVID era?

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a crisis whose effects will ripple on for years to come, but how will it impact Europe? A mere five weeks since the World Health Organization declared Europe the active center of the pandemic, we are bearing witness to the increased erosion of democracy in East-Central Europe, newly exposed weaknesses in the EU's political and financial structure, and new social and political challenges for migrant communities.

The Hamilton Lugar School's Russian & East European InstituteInstitute for European StudiesInner Asian & Uralic National Resource Center, and Polish Studies Center will host a virtual mini-conference examining Europe and the existential challenges illuminated by COVID-19.

The conference took place Wednesday, April 29 via Zoom.

Watch the recorded conference

Conference panels

10:05am: Democracy on Paper: COVID-19 in East-Central Europe

While claiming to protect their citizens from the disease, the authorities in Poland, Hungary, and Belarus have made a series of controversial decisions, with potentially grave implications for these countries’ democracies.

In Poland, the governing Law and Justice party delayed announcing a state of emergency in order to prepare for two rounds of national elections in May, while hampering the opposition’s ability to campaign. In Hungary, Prime Minister Orbán and his party Fidesz put in place an open-ended state of emergency and used it to further concentrate his power. Finally, in Belarus, President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s refusal to enforce social distancing has been entangled in his administration’s anti-Kremlin policies.

This panel addresses political developments in East-Central Europe in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Interviewer: Péter Krekó
  • Speakers: Jarosław Kuisz, Nick Thorpe, Elena Korosteleva

Noon: Remarks

Ambassador Lee Feinstein, founding dean of the Hamilton Lugar School and former US Ambassador to Poland, will give short remarks.

12:15pm: Fraying at the Seams? Europe, the European Union, and the COVID-19 Pandemic

The response of European nations to the COVID-19 pandemic has flooded the news, as major outbreaks in Italy, Spain, France, and—to a lesser degree—Germany have killed thousands and brought their healthcare systems to the brink of collapse.  Virtually no attention has been paid in the American media, however, to the European Union’s response as a whole.

If the COVID-19 pandemic is viewed in the aggregate, the EU rivals the United States for preeminence in terms of both the number of cases and deaths. Additionally, the economic and political crises riding on the coattails of the pandemic have brought the flaws of the EU’s political structure in high relief as it has struggled to move forward on both a centralized research agenda and a strong collective fiscal response to the crisis.

Also unexamined are the responses of other, smaller European nations, like Portugal, Greece, and Ukraine, many of which have had notable successes in their responses to the virus that may be undone by EU inertia on the economic and political fronts.

This panel aims to provide a fuller, interdisciplinary picture of the European response to COVID-19 by bringing the reflections of an epidemiologist, a former politician and think-tank leader, and a medical anthropologist into dialogue.

  • Interviewer: Frank Hess
  • Speakers: Evi Hatziandreou, Anna Diamantopoulou, Maryna Bazylevych

2pm: Outsiders & Quarantines: Migrants in COVID-19 Europe

The COVID-19 pandemic has created new social and political challenges for migrant communities in Europe. Undocumented migrant workers, often from the former Soviet Bloc and many of them women employed as domestics and caregivers, face precarious employment conditions and lack access to essential safety measures. Moreover, the national lockdowns have intensified the need for temporary and "essential" workers further legitimizing questionable practices of mobility control and heightening inequalities and vulnerabilities among various types of migrants. In refugee camps and makeshift villages, people are forced into confined spaces, deprived of basic sanitary facilities, let alone conditions for practicing social distancing. Both groups of migrants experience growing xenophobia.

This panel explores a range of situations and contexts, as well as individual governments’ responses to COVID-19 challenges that confront migrant communities.

  • Interviewer: Elizabeth Cullen Dunn
  • Speakers: Maurizio Albahari, Olena Fedyuk, Priyali Sur

Maurizio Albahari, University of Notre Dame

Maurizio Albahari is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame, where he is also a concurrent Associate Professor in the Keough School of Global Affairs. He is the author of the monographs Crimes of Peace: Mediterranean Migrations at the World’s Deadliest Border(University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015) and Tra la Guerra e il Mare: Democrazia Migrante e Crimini di Pace (Manifestolibri, Italy, 2017). His articles and editorials on refugee mobility, human rights, and civic engagement in the Euro-Mediterranean region have appeared in interdisciplinary and news media venues.

Maryna Bazylevych, Luther College

Maryna Bazylevych is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Luther College, IA. Her research focuses on the issues of professionalization, remuneration, class, and feminization in the healthcare sector. She has also conducted research on risk categories and health-seeking behaviors in millennial Ukraine. Among her published works are research on the Hippocratic Oath published in the Human Organization; and vaccination anxieties published in the Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Her most recent research with health unionists in Ukraine focuses on the clinical labor in a healthcare system facing neo-liberalization and ponders how solidarity animates this form of public sector unionism.

Anna Diamantopoulou, DIKTIO Network for Reform

Anna Diamantopoulou is the founder and President of DIKTIO – Network for Reforms in Greece and Europe, an Athens-based think tank. A Civil Engineer by training with graduate studies in Regional Development. Member of the Greek Parliament for 11 years & European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (1999-2004). Minister of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs (2009-2012), and Minister of Development, Competitiveness, and Shipping (March-May 2012). Presidium Member of the “Friends of Europe”, the Brussels-based think tank exploring thinking on the future of the EU, and Steering Committee Member of “Notre Europe-Jaques Delors Institute” the Paris-based think tank dedicated to European integration and unity. Member of the Scientific Council of Federation of European Progressive Studies (FEPS). Fisher Family Fellow (2012) of the Harvard Kennedy School lecturing on European Affairs, and Distinguished Scholar at Singapore’s Lee Kuan School of Public Policy (2015). Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy (2016-2018). Study visit (invited speaker) at the Republic of Korea, lecturing on the need of countries to adopt a National Strategy for Transitioning to the 4th Industrial Revolution, peer review meetings with the Korean Presidential Fourth Industrial Revolution Committee and with experts from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology and the Korea University (2018).

Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, IU Department of Geography

Elizabeth Cullen Dunn works on forced migration in Europe, particularly in the Republic of Georgia and in Germany. Her most recent book, No Path Home: Humanitarian Camps and the Grief of Displacement (Cornell 2017) looked at failures in the humanitarian aid process.  She has written on forced migration for Boston Review, Slate, and Science, and her work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times and Die Zeit.  She also serves on the executive board of Exodus Refugee Immigration, a refugee resettlement agency in Indianapolis.

Olena Fedyuk, Central European University

Olena Fedyuk obtained her Ph.D. degree from the department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the Central European University, Budapest. Her dissertation is an ethnographic examination of transnational moral economies and distant motherhood through the cases of Ukrainian female labor migrants to Italy. Her work deals with transnational labor migration, overlap of gendered employment, and migration policies as well as transformations in care and labor regimes. Since 2012 Olena has directed two documentary films: Road of a migrant (2015) deals with the role of the church in migrants’ lives and Olha’s Italian Diary (2018), which is a sneak peek into a life of a sole female migrant. Olena’s most recent action-based research brings together migration and industrial relations perspectives by exploring the growing field of temporary work agency in employing third-country nationals in the EU.    

Evi Hatziandreou, IU O’Neill School of Public & Environmental Affairs

Evi Hatziandreou is a visiting scholar at IU's O'Neill School of Public & Environmental Affairs and the scientific adviser at DIKTIO Network for Reform in Greece & Europe, a Greek Think Tank dealing with European issues (programs, studies, events). She is also a Venture Partner at the Big Pi, a newly EIF-EQUIFUND Venture Capital, for funding Greek start-ups focusing among others on the bio-digital and the life sciences areas.

Hatziandreou has worked in the United States, England, Sweden and Greece, in the public and private sectors and non-profit organisations encompassing the spectrum from researcher to manager to policy implementation. Her experience and expertise cover a wide range of areas relating to health, its delivery, finance, prevention & wellness, and communication; i.e., health policies, insurance-provided care and health services, administration. It includes managerial and leadership positions in the Ministry of Health (US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the US Congress, (Office of Technology Assessment), multinational and Greek companies (ASTRAZENECA, INTERAMERICAN Insurance Co, member of ACHMEA), Greek Social Health Insurance Organisation, and RAND Europe as a health program director.

From 2009 to 2012 served as senior adviser to the minister of education with the portfolio of research, technology and innovation; minister of development and later to the minister of economy for health policy and social issues. Her publications in international journals include studies for the prevention, management and economic evaluation of programs and health services.

Hatziandreou is a graduate of the Athens Medical School and holds a joint Doctoral degree in health policy and management & epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Frank Hess, IU Hamilton Lugar School

Frank Hess is the Director and Senior Lecturer in the Hamilton Lugar School's Institute for European Studies and the Coordinator of the Modern Greek Program at Indiana University. In addition to teaching language courses, Dr. Hess also teaches a course on Greek cinema and the history and anthropology of Greece’s food cultures. His research interests include film, television, mass media, popular culture, and immigration. He is currently working on a book manuscript titled Civilization, Hellenism, and the Nation: An Uneasy Alliance. Dr. Hess also regularly presents on language pedagogy issues through the biennial Modern Greek Language Teaching Workshop. Recent presentations have focused on incorporating student-generated content into the classroom and the challenges of literacy-based approaches to language education. Last, Dr. Hess is a member of the Executive Board of the Modern Greek Studies Association, serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies, and is the Humanities Book Review Editor for Ergon: Greek/American Transnational Arts and Letters.

Elena Korosteleva, University of Kent

Elena Korosteleva is Professor of International Politics and Jean Monnet Chair of European Politics, at the School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent. Elena is an LSE IDEAS Visiting Professor; GLOBSEC IAB executive member, LSE/Hertie Dahrendorf Professorial Fellow, and co-founder/ director of the Global Europe Centre at Kent. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the GCRF UKRI COMPASS project  2017-21), which focuses on capacity-building and resilience in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Most recent works include Resilience in EU and international Institutions (2020, Routledge forthcoming, with T. Flockhart) and The Politics and The Political of the Eastern Partnership Initiative: re-shaping the agenda (Routledge 2018).

Péter Krekó, Political Capital Institute

Péter Krekó is a social psychologist and political scientist. He is the executive director of Political Capital since 2011. Currently, he is a Europe’s Futures Visiting Fellow of the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM) and Erste Foundation, and a non-resident Associate Fellow at the Johns Hopkins University SAIS Bologna Institute of  Policy Research. During 2016-2017 Péter worked as a Fulbright Visiting Professor in the United States at the Central Eurasian Studies Department and The Russian and East European Institute of Indiana University. He focuses on Russian 'soft power' policies and political populism and extremism in Europe. He defended his thesis on the social psychology of conspiracy theories at the ELTE University in 2014. He was the co-chair of the PREVENT working group at the EU Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) between 2013 and 2016. He is the author of The Hungarian Far Right (co-author Attila Juhász) and second book on fake news and conspiracy theories in Hungarian, a social science best-seller. He is a regular commentator in the international media. He is the owner of Political Capital Institute.

Jarosław Kuisz, Kultura liberalna Poland

Jarosław Kuisz is editor-in-chief of the Polish political and cultural weekly Kultura Liberalna, senior lecturer at the Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Warsaw, Poland. He is Co-director of the Knowledge Bridges Poland-Britain-Europe Project, St Antony's College, University of Oxford (2016-2018); Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the University of Copenhagen (2016-2018); Chercheur Étranger Associé at the Institut d’histoire du temps present at CNRS in Paris. He is a former visiting scholar at the University of Oxford, University of Chicago Law School, and Columbia Law School. Kuisz recently wrote for the Guardian, New York Times, Journal of Democracy.

Priyali Sur, The Azadi Project

Priyali Sur is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker, international development professional, and Founder of The Azadi Project, a non-profit organization that helps refugee women build digital economy job skills and livelihoods. She has focused on promoting the inclusion of marginalized communities for her entire career, including as a consultant for the World Bank in Lesotho and Nigeria and leading The Azadi Project workshops in refugee camps in Greece and Niger. Her reporting has documented the stories of refugee women in Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Niger, and Serbia. Her work has been published in CNN, Foreign Policy, and PBS Newshour. She holds multiple degrees, including a Master’s in International Public Policy from the  School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, in Washington, D.C. 

Nick Thorpe, BBC

Nick Thorpe is a writer, film-maker and award-winning journalist, specialising in eastern Europe and the Balkans. He has lived in Budapest since 1986, working for the BBC, the Observer, the Independent and Guardian newspapers. He has been BBC Central Europe Correspondent since 1996. He studied Modern Languages at the Universities of Reading (UK), Dakar (Senegal) and Freiburg (Germany), graduating in 1982. He is the author of 3 books: The Road Before Me Weeps - On the Refugee Routethrough Europe (Yale UP, 2019), The Danube - A Journey Upriver (Yale UP, 2014), ’89 - The Unfinished Revolution - Power and Powerlessness in Eastern Europe (Reportage Press 2009, Endeavour Press 2015). He has also written and presented two documentary television series: The Travels of a Gadjo in Romanistan (Spot Productions, 2015), The Danube: Against the Flow (AMC/ Spot Productions, 2020).