A public book launch/webinar with four presentations by the book contributors including Joan Tronto.
About this Event
The virtual book launch/webinar takes place on Zoom on Thursday, October 15 from 3pm to 4.30pm CEST (Prague/Bratislava time). The program includes an opening presentation of the book followed by four short talks by authors who contributed to the volume: Joan Tronto, Jorma Heier, Kanchana Mahadevan and Sophie Bourgault. The speakers will link the arguments of their chapters to current important political/social issues. Any attendee will have a chance to participate in the discussion. Register here.
This book reflects on theoretical developments in the political theory of care and new applications of care ethics in different contexts. The chapters provide original and fresh perspectives on the seminal notions and topics of a politically formulated ethics of care. It covers concepts such as democratic citizenship, social and political participation, moral and political deliberation, solidarity and situated attentive knowledge. It engages with current debates on marketizing and privatizing care, and deals with issues of state care provision and democratic caring institutions. It speaks to the current political and societal challenges, including the crisis of Western democracy related to the rise of populism and identity politics worldwide. The book brings together perspectives of care theorists from three different continents and ten different countries and gives voice to their unique local insights from various socio-political and cultural contexts. Read more
In the course of a few weeks, our response to COVID-19 changed the world as we knew it. Suddenly, we became potential ‘vectors’ and ‘victims’ of the virus. We are forced to make small and large-scale decisions that affect our private and public lives. Hard decisions. Most of them are steered by doing everything in our power to prevent the virus from spreading. Bodies are framed as precarious biological and social bodies. All suitable framings and decisions, but more hard choices, need to be made. Choices on how we care. How could a caring approach help us to find our way of responding to the pandemic?’(1)
Concentric circles of care To untangle and reflect upon what is happening, let us start with three concentric circles of care (2). This is an imagery: in reality, the circles intertwine, their boundaries are open. The first care circle is our intimate circle. It consists of the life-sustaining web of our family and friends, no matter if they are living in the same house, or far away. The second circle is the community that we are part of. Here, the web extends to our colleagues at work, acquaintances in our neighborhood, the cashier at our local supermarket, friends of friends, our spiritual or religious communities. The third care circle seems more distant and abstract, but is actually very nearby. It is the tapestry of all those who reside in respective countries, closely connected with the rest of the world. This circle is a national ánd global circle. In all circles, we are entangled with non-human livings, animals, gardens, rainforests, oceans, atmospheres: our ecology.
First circle: listening and responding to our needs In the first circle, care begins by connecting with ourselves, by closely listening to our bodies. Next, allying ourselves with reliable sources on our health and well-being. Organizations such as the Center for Disease Control teach us about what is happening, how it may affect our health and well-being, and what we can do. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the American immunologist who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and is a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has become one of those reliable sources. So far, the media gave most attention to our physical health. We also need to care for our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Next, in our immediate care circle, care is about paying attention and listening to our own needs and the needs of close ones. Remember: needs are not always clear-cut or visible. Some may not tell us what they need, either because they do not know, or they have difficulty speaking up. Pay close attention when you sense something is ‘off’ with someone that you know. Ask. Probe. Ask again. Gradually, you will know what to do, but it may take time. Especially with COVID-19, people may be fearful to admit that they have symptoms. What if they are judged or blamed? Why not do our very best to refrain from any judgment, and instead show compassion and understanding as a form of care? Here, care is also about responding to our needs and to the needs of others. By responding and by taking action, we show and take responsibility. We do something for ourselves or others. We may buy them groceries, we may bring them to the doctor, we may even advocate for them, but many times simply sitting down with someone and taking the time to listen, can be a significant act of care.
Second circle: who we are together In the second care circle, the circle of our community, we may need to revise our view on how to make the right decisions. Decisions on who needs care the most urgently, how to better protect nurses and doctors, or what should be done for the elderly or chronically ill, cannot be made from one stance only. We are connected with each other. Decisions are always culminations of who we are together.
We cannot expect that other people will take responsibility for situations that we are responsible for together. Who decides about who needs most the last pack of toilet paper? Instead of hoarding toilet paper, every one of us is called to care about the others by not buying all available goods. We need to practice solidarity. We need to trust. Share products with those who need it the most, trust that we will have enough for ourselves. There are no clear-cut ethical guidelines for us follow, the situation is too complex for general rules (but many are working hard to develop protocols) (4). We already see many stores putting a limit on products that people are allowed to buy. No more than three packages of medicine. But what if someone suffers from a chronic illness and is more vulnerable to infection than others? Should people without a chronic illness share their packages? Reaching decisions on what is the best path to follow, should take these subtle differences into consideration. Trust the pharmacist. Trust the receptionist.
Third circle: a pandemic and caring society On a national and international level we are expected to be a ‘pandemic’ citizen (3). We are called to follow regulations by being a responsible citizen. We are demanded to act in the interest of the collective. Compliance, self-mastery and self-protection align with that vital view. This view is challenging too, because people are assumed to be rational beings, capable of compliance and self-mastery. The last few weeks show that reality may be different. People are capable, and vulnerable too. They cannot fully ‘self-master’ their lives all the time and in every situation. Some of us carry particular responsibilities that conflict with these expectations. For example, the care-worker who is exhausted but who carries on because nobody else is able to stand in. Who takes care of her? Just as some citizens have gone crazy with gun violence, and just as some attempt to buy companies for exclusive rights on vaccines, we cannot predict how others will respond to the virus, nor can we predict how the virus will develop in the future. From a care perspective, we are open to learning about how to relate to this uncertainty in a meaningful way.
A care lens also invites us to acknowledge that we are caring citizens. Being a caring citizen, in line with Joan Tronto’s work on the homines curans (caring people), demands for us to see the human being as being closely interconnected with others in webs of care. Others as in other human beings, but also as in non-human others. Some of those others are more vulnerable and precarious. Yes: as a pandemic citizen, social distancing is crucial. As a caring citizen, we also search for ways to stay connected with close and distant others. To keep social distancing healthy, we need an outlook on how to support people who are living in isolation. How they can preserve and maintain their relationships, whilst complying with regulations. For many, being in isolation, at least for a while, may come with the gift of time, silence and solitude. But what if some do not experience this as a gift at all? What if our jobs are on the line? What if we miss graduation day? What if we lose that which makes us human: the experience of being close to someone or someplace we care about? Care in this third circle means expanding our response to the virus with a vision on how to protect the notions that are central to a global, caring society: solidarity, equity and trust.
Entwined solidarity This is a call for a global solidarity. A solidarity that is not restricted to us as humans, but that respects our entanglements with matter and all living creatures. An entwined solidarity that assists us in responding to what is unravelling in and around us.
(1) Care is an interdisciplinary field of research that, in addition to public health, may offer us another perspective on our personal, communal and (inter)national well being (Leget, Van Nistelrooij, Visse, 2019). (2) Emily Abel and Margaret Nelson used ‘circles of care’ in a different way in their book Circles of Care: Work and Identity in Women’s Lives, 1990. (3) The pandemic citizen as a concept from critical health literature (Maunula, 2017) (4) National Academy of Medicine; https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsb2005114
Feminist Care Ethics has received extensive attention in a variety of fields over the past quarter century including political science, philosophy, education, social work, sociology and more. There has been relatively little discussion of Care Ethics in the field of Religious Studies. Surprisingly, given that virtually all mainstream religions hold care and compassion as a major tenet. Care Ethics and Religion will be a volume of original essays that fills this intellectual gap.
Editors Maurice Hamington, Carlo Leget, Inge van Nistelrooij, and Maureen Sander-Staudt invite papers on the topic of Care Ethics and religious teachings, traditions, identities, practices, practitioners, as well as atheism and humanist spiritual traditions. All contributions should engage feminist Care Ethics as exemplified by scholars such as Marian Barnes, Carol Gilligan, Nel Noddings, and Joan Tronto.
Care Ethics is a moral theory and interdisciplinary field of studies/enquiry, rooted in relations of interdependency and universal human needs for care. The ethic departs from moral theories such as Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Neo-Liberalism in critiquing their individualistic, rationalistic, and abstract elements as distortions of lived human lives.
Care Ethics postulates that humans are universally born in need of embodied and social-psychological care. Making care ontologically prior to moral concerns such as justice. Despite the universal need for care which makes care-giving an essential practice without which human life would cease, the ethic situates care giving practices in particular places, times, and identities.
Given the extent to which care giving overlaps with richly diverse religious and spiritual identities, beliefs, rituals, and traditions, this volume seeks to expand the field of Care Ethics to consider how religion, construed for global religious and secular audiences, potentially enhances but can also destabilize the goals of care.
Commentary and analysis
The editors of this anthology invite critical commentary and analysis on how religion, both organized and less formally arranged, may facilitate or erode the normative goals associated with Care Ethics. To the extent that many religions recognize the human and embodied need for care, and valorize the moral obligation to give and take care as having a divine component, it is sometimes the case that religious practices enrich care.
At the same time, as a feminist ethic, Care Ethics is well situated to uniquely critique and question a wide variety of religious motifs, practices, and teachings in light of how well they do and do not succeed in completing the goals of care in ways that are competent and just. This volume seeks to initiate discussion of the possible affinities and strains between Care Ethics and religion, broadly construed, and to indicate areas in need of future study.
Possible questions/topics may include but are not limited to:
How does religion contribute to caring identity and practice?
Are caring virtues also religious virtues, and the converse?
Ideal syntheses of care ethics and religion/spirituality
Care-ethical and religious perspectives on precarity and compassion
Care as a religious motif
Care ethics, atheism and secular humanism
Care ethics and non-supernatural spiritual traditions (e.g. Buddhism, Taoism)
Care, religion, and anthropocentrism/relations with the natural world
Care as instrument of religious colonialism and oppression
Religion as catalyst for care completion and social equity
Care ethics and theology on love and compassion
Care ethics as a critique of religious theory and practice
Coping with suffering, death, and loss
Queering care ethics and religion
Spiritual violence and care
Care as a gendered and intersectional religious theme
Care, religion and sexuality
Care as a marginalized, disenfranchised, and appropriated concept in religion
Care and religion as slave moralities
The role of embodiment in religion and care
Contested concepts: care, love, compassion in religion
Care and God; the divine; good/evil; heaven/hell; the afterlife