A new normal? The inordinate ordinary of COVID times

Author: Ruth Sheldon1
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  • 1 King’s College London, , UK
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This article responds to the seismic transformations in urban relations to the ordinary, which have emerged in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, a condition in which mundane objects and actions have been permeated by the pressure of law and ethics. I draw together reflections from an ethnography conducted a few years ago in the strictly orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Stamford Hill, London, with more recent autoethnographic reflections from the adjacent area of Stoke Newington. Exploring productive resonances between these times, spaces and scenes, the article challenges prominent representations of orthodox life as pathologically invested in the ordinary. I seek to enact a form of what Veena Das terms ‘adjacent thinking’ to make two interventions: first, to shed new light on the violence, pressures and possibilities of the transfiguration of the pandemic everyday; and second, to explore how we might cope with our yearning for the mundane-of-before by engaging with an emergent vitality in our relations to the ordinary.

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  • 1 King’s College London, , UK

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