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Illustration: Proximity and Distance Photo (detail): © Nadine Shaabana

Visions of a Post-Pandemic Future
Lockdown Lessons: Proximity and Distance

In ways we never imagined a virus now compels the world to keep its distance and regulates the closeness we are allowed to have with others. What happens with us when cultural practices of proximity are so fundamentally questioned? Which forms of distancing has the pandemic required in different social systems? The Goethe-Institut aims to explore these questions in Brazil, Korea, India and Germany. The focus will be on the future: How close to others can we be, and how close do we want to be?

About the project

From Our Experts


Illustration of Rosana Paulino Illustration (detail): © Nik Neves

Time to Be Together - But Not That Close

Brazil has withstood the virus. When a kiss on the cheek could become synonymous with death, the population has to face the necessity to rethink socialising. Within this new reality, visual artist Rosana Paulino asks: What does it mean to be close and what does it mean to be distant?

Illustration of Prof. Kwang-Sun Joo Illustration (detail): © Nik Neves

South Korea
Life perspectives for a time after COVID-19

What role will state and society play in a post-COVID era? Kwang Sun Joo speaks about the meaning of freedom and rights in South Korea and why we should be thinking about a new world order.

Illustration of Prof. Dr. Jan Paul Heisig Illustration (Ausschnitt): © Nik Neves

A Counterbalance of Regulations and Social Interactions

While its long-term impacts of the pandemic remain difficult to predict, sociologist Jan Paul Heisig discusses how COVID-19 has spotlighted previously unnoticed issues in German society, how it has changed social interactions, and how these changes interact with preexisting social inequalities.

Illustration of Paromita Vohra Illustration (detail): © Nik Neves

Now It Is Come to Distances and Both of Us Must Try: Proximity and Distance in the Pandemic

The pandemic of 2020 befell in a hyper networked world, whose buzzword was, connected. The distance we were meant to observe for fear of infection, revealed the disconnections, which teem beneath the surface of networks and visible mobilities.

Panel Discussion: “What is next? What is here to stay? What is gone?”

In conversation with Ms. Paromita Vohra (Filmmaker, Mumbai) and Mr. Jan Paul Heisig (Sociologist, Berlin) moderated by Ms. Namrata Kohli (Author and Journalist, Delhi).

In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the discussion between the two experts centers on the question “What is next? What is here to stay? What is gone?” The focus is on the future, on changes ushered in by the pandemic: How close to others can we be, and how close do we want to be? How important is physical closeness really and what other forms of proximity are conceivable?

Phenomena of Distance

Remote Culture

(Not) Allowed Contact

Distance Proverbial

New Culture of Availability

Impact on Education and Equal Opportunities

Social Injustice

Children and Adolescents

Digital Education Opportunities

The pandemic has challenged school and education systems worldwide. From one day to the next, students had to stay at home because they could only be taught at a distance – in other words digitally. In a letter exchange, the Indian author Paromita Vohra, the Brazilian artist Rosana Paulino, the Korean philosophy professor Kwang Sun Joo and the German sociologist Jan Paul Heisig discuss the new possibilities based on the situation in their respective homeland.

Illustration of Rosana Paulino (left), Paromita Vohra (middle), Jan Paul Heisig (right) and Kwang Sun Joo (far right) Illustration (detail): © Nik Neves

A Chink in the Imagination
Rethinking the Meaning of Learning

Paromita Vohra answers the final question of this letter exchange posed by German Professor of Sociology Jan Paul Heisig: “Can you find at least some indications of how the experiences of the past months might also lead to changes for the better in India?” While the disparity of digital access raised many questions of educational scarring, the pandemic also offered an opportunity to reimagine education away from its formulaic structures.

The Collective Memory

Care and Community

The way of dealing with death

More about the Project Lockdown Lessons

Key Visual: Lockdown Lessons Photo (detail): © John Simitopoulos

Lockdown Lessons

For a year and a half now the whole world has been preoccupied with a virus. We have experienced the global, if somewhat staggered, nature of the pandemic in multiple phased waves. And already early in the beginning of the global crisis a question emerged: What can we learn from this catastrophe? In five thematic modules, the project “Lockdown Lessons” searches for answers on a global scale.