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

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

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?

From Our Experts


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