COVID-19, A New Humanitarian Crisis and Literature1 YEAR(S) AGO
A commentary article called “From the Covid-19 to Sterile Humanity: An Absurd Drama” and jointly penned by Dr. Mustafa Bal, a faculty member at the Department of English Language and Literature of TOBB University of Economics and Technology, and Assoc. Prof. Ferhat Arslan, a faculty member at the Department of Infectious Diseases of Istanbul Medeniyet University, was published as an e-letter in Science, one of the most prominent journals of the world, on May 17, 2020.
The piece has introduced a new perspective on the Covid-19 pandemic that has recently dominated the world agenda and started a life and death struggle for the twenty-first century people. The ongoing pandemic started in the Wuhan region of China, the humanitarian crisis experienced by the refugees on the European border, the rising levels of xenophobia and racism among the public remind the humanitarian crisis that had resulted in millions of dead people during the Second World War.
A group of disillusioned playwrights started the theatre of absurd as a reaction to the European white man’s civilisation that was demolished during the war. Can the violence, discrimination, alienation and insensitive attitudes exemplified in Samuel Beckett’s and Edward Albee’s absurd theatre pave the way for a more humanitarian approach to the refugee crisis fostered by the escalating levels of xenophobia in the times of the Covid-19 pandemic? Can human beings learn from their past mistakes through literature?
This commentary article raises these questions and seeks an answer to them while questioning Europe’s “humanitarian” approach that has being tested for a second time.
You may find the article here.