“When someone gets sick, we run to them, not from them”: Holding space for solidarity otherwise and the city in times of COVID-19

Aminata Cairo, Lisa-Marlen Gronemeier, Rosalba Icaza Garza, Umbreen Salim, Jyothi K. Thrivikraman, Daniela Vicherat Mattar

Research output: Working paperAcademic

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How can we think about solidarity in ways that are attentive to the diversity of stories, spaces, practices, bodies, and temporalities shaping a city? Situated in diverse geo and body political locations as researchers, we argue that holding space for otherwise unseen and non-intelligible plural forms of solidarity, that is solidarities, is at the heart of such an endeavour. In The Hague, The Netherlands, the COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled an interest in understanding solidarity towards migrants’ communities. However, dominant theories of solidarity do not suffice to unpack the many forms of solidarity in the city. These theories explain solidarity either as enacted upon “others” or as limited to a delineated community. In both cases, solidarity is assumed to be disengaged from basic forms of reciprocity between city dwellers and the places and daily practices that exist for urban life to thrive. In this article, we move beyond these disengagements.
Departing from our own practices of solidarity as researchers, with different migratory backgrounds and belongings, as well as a basic understanding of solidarity as an embodied and enfleshed set of relations of care, we interrogate how solidarity practices unfold across different locations in the city of The Hague, weaving city and residents together. Embarking upon this explorative journey, we as researchers ended up becoming part of the communal bodies and learned about solidarity firsthand as our stories became interwoven. Rather than visibilizing stories, we held the space for our and the communities’ stories (Cairo 2021). This paper then is not just about what we learned, but also about how we learned. In doing so, we highlight the need to reconceptualize solidarity in a way that allows for differences to come forward and to be creative with those differences (Lorde 2017 [1979]), and to grapple with how this plurality shapes The Hague. In advocating for creativity with rather than tolerance of difference, we underline the power that lies in turning the nondominant differences between us into strengths, as a way to forge new urban relationships, to think and live in the city and ways of thinking and practising (Lorde 2017 [1979]). We also highlight the potential of research as a praxis of transformation rather than data collection and extraction
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDen Haag
PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
Number of pages35
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Publication series

SeriesISS General Working Paper series

Bibliographical note

We like to thank the collaborators and funders of this research: The International Institute of Social Studies, Local Engagement Facility; De Mussen Community Centre, The Hague; De VaderCentrum Community Centre, The Hague; Theater De Vaillant, The Hague; The Church of Our Saviour, The Hague; The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Leiden University College, The Hague; Leiden Global Transformations and Governance Challenges Program; and Pathos Studio


  • ISS Working Paper-General Series


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