'We've invested so much in an economy of violence' - Fuh on inequality, post-COVID-19

12 May 2020 - 08:00
Spatial inequality puts the potential risk of a pandemic like COVID-19 in stark relief. Image by Falco on Pixabay.

What impact could the COVID-19 pandemic have on global inequalities between the Global North and South, and what are some of the ways that the virus is exposing the underlying mechanisms for this inequality?

It is a question that is being debated fiercely in many quarters, and Bergen Global recently invited Dr Divine Fuh, director of UCT's Institute for the Humanities in Africa (HUMA), to contribute to the urgent global discussion. Bergen Global is a project by the Univeristy of Bergen, Norway, and Fuh was joined on the panel by Ottar Maested, an economist specialising in global health research  and director of the NPO, the Chr. Michelsen Institute. The discussion was chaired by Maria Dyveke Styve, a doctoral candidiate in the University of Bergen's Department of Social Anthropology.

Fuh introduced the panel to Corona Times, the public engagement initiative by HUMA that aims to explore the inner workings of the pandemic's growing and varied social impact.

"The virus tells us that those with pre-existing conditions are more vulnerable," said Fuh. "The virus does not necessarily exacerbate the inequalities. It flourishes under these inequalities within and between countries.

"We just need to back to January this year when Oxfam released its report, Time to Care, just before Davos, continued Fuh. "So this existing inequality, this structure which we have neglected over time ... If we look back, we have invested so much in an economy of violence, an economy of exploitation.

"Look at what we've invested in the military compared to what we've invested in health. And it's interesting that just when the crisis happens, what do we fall back to? We fall back to the sector we neglected."

Watch the full webinar, which was streamed on 8 May.