On the Capitalist (Re)Production of our Bodies in Times of Corona: Resistance Through Alliance

A contribution by Dr Yousra Rahmouni Elidrissi, Assistant Professor in Organization Studies

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A contribution by Dr Yousra Rahmouni Elidrissi for the Gender, Diversity and COVID-19 platform. The platform offers a series of short blogposts in which we invite different Hub members and researchers to share their findings, insights and reading tips on issues of inclusion and exclusion related to the Corona crisis.

From my situated perspective as an activist-researcher working on social movements and the embodiment of activist work practices, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought striking light to the question of inequalities. As Prof Rosemarie Buikema highlighted in her contribution, their gender dimension was notably exacerbated by this crisis, which calls for the necessity of intersectional interventions in developing responses to it.


In my sense, the pandemic has also revealed how much of our – usually taken-for-granted – bodies are mobilized as the flesh of our capitalist modes of production and hence, at the basis of the reproduction of these inequalities. As researcher Gediminas Lesutis put it, “as it spreads globally from one body to another, it shows how abstract structures (…) that we often struggle to fully comprehend are nothing else but systems made of our bodies.”

The value of lives 

More than that, the crisis has rendered visible the way bodies are differentially valuable along gender-race-class lines; leading certain lives to be “valued” as worthy of preservation while others be considered “disposable” and potentially sacrificial or ‘sacrificiable’ to the maintenance of the neoliberal machine.

Precarity and vulnerability

It is in these terms that feminist scholar, Judith Butler, initially analyzed the differential distribution of public grieving in times of war (and terrorist attacks). In her later work, she invites us to think of bodies in terms of precarity and vulnerability as shared conditions of human lives, in order to imagine a politics of the streets or a gender politics of alliances with precarious groups.

The neoliberal myth of individualism

More generally, queer and feminist approaches to politics take bodies as a starting point of any social praxis of resistance, emphasizing our corporeal inter-dependency and collective ethical responsibility, against the neoliberal myth of individualism. In these pandemic times, while our bodies have never been more distanced from each other but also never more disciplined than today, their contributions are all the more relevant to help us understand, experience and reaffirm the importance of care as a way toward anti-capitalist realities.