CALL FOR PAPERS: Spatial conditioning and consequences of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic. An Opening Report


Edited by:                

         Izabella Łęcka (University of Warsaw) – Guest Editor

Przemysław Śleszyński (Institute of Geography and Spatial Organisation of the Polish Academy of Sciences) – Geographia Polonica – Guest Editor
Deadline for submissions: 30 September 2020
Planned publication: Issue 1/2021 (January 2021)
In a short period of time, an epidemic of infection with the previously unknown RNA virus, currently adopted the name SARS-Cov-2, which causes the new disease COVID-19 (although reminiscent of the incidence of SARS known in 2003, but much more difficult to stop), has affected many countries. For this reason, the World Health Organization has declared a pandemic, or, in a sense, a global epidemic. The disease is characterized by ease of respiratory droplet transmission, and the development of a pandemic is closely related to social contact models. In each of these countries, however, this model is different, and therefore the methods and rate of infection spread vary. However, despite the otherwise difficult situation, geographers have an extremely interesting research field. Why are the models for the spread of COVID-19 varied? Which of the features of the human life environment, as well as behavioral and cultural features of societies are factors modifying the health situation in countries with an epidemic. These and other questions can be the core of the study of both physical geography and human geography.
Even broader is the spectrum of possible issues related to the effects of the pandemic, both during (e.g. as regards lockdown, panic, "top-down" and "bottom-up" actions taken) and after – given the expectation that this will eventually subside. Certainly, the forecasting and research in the realms of futurology will prove more difficult to pursue than the effort to find regularities and relationships among phenomena and processes already in existence. What can nevertheless be taken as read is  that, due to the extent and destructiveness of the pandemic in so many countries, as well as the associated public pressures and expectations (aroused in this era of global media, the Internet, etc.), most aspects of the lives of most of us have been and will be affected. For now, we cannot even say what stage of this process we are at. Nor do we in fact know how far the familiar theories and methodological tools (with the model of the epidemiological transition at the forefront) actually suffice in allowing the phenomenon to be understood.

Regardless, a heated debate is already ongoing – in both academia and the media – as to what the world after the pandemic will – or should – look like. For a very long time now – and perhaps even throughout its modern history – geography has not been so “at the core" of this type of discussion. So, paradoxically, there is a kind of opportunity here for our discipline to develop. Key geographical themes that are appearing in the aforementioned debate relate to spatial-mobility patterns, and regional and local models of globalisation (glocalisation). What is more, the discussions are proving to be dominated by a view that the spatial organisation of many aspects of social and economic life existing up to now will need to be revised. And that goes for aspects ranging from the production of goods and services (labour markets, production and service chains), through their distribution (transport, storage and trade), and up to and including education, as well as tourism and recreation. 

The term "post-Covid geographies" already exists.

It is clear that the impact of the novel coronavirus is on a scale that is, and will be, making it the subject of a great deal of research, including in geography. We are therefore announcing this Call for papers, in order that the collection of works to be published in Geographia Polonica at the beginning of 2021 may represent a kind of "Opening Report" on the virus, especially as it has manifested itself in Poland and the CEECs. We are aware that in such a short period of time (just 3 months on from the disease assuming pandemic proportions), it is difficult to come up with exhaustive analyses, especially of an explanatory nature. We are therefore first encouraging the presentation of preliminary or initial results, relating to the pandemic’s spatial structure and basic regularities; along with hypothesis-advancement where conditioning and consequences are concerned. This is in accordance with the classical pattern by which research in geography develops, with reconnaissance and description of a given phenomenon’s spatial differentiation preceded by the development and forwarding of hypotheses, as followed by their testing through the  successive iterations method, with a view to model and theoretical conceptualisations being arrived at. 

Secondly, we are promoting a process of discussion of a futuristic/futurological nature: not only on how the post-pandemic world may look, but also on how it should look. There is therefore plenty of room for manoeuvre here, especially for those geographers who define their science as one engaged in resolving the problems of the modern world.

All in all, there are many potential topics, issues and analyses here, as well as opportunities to present the world with things as they appear from the point of Poland, or the CEECs more widely. To facilitate and profile the task awaiting contributors, we would like to present cognitive and methodological threads as follows:
  • The conditioning of – and regularities governing – the development of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic (e.g. as regards spatial structure, dynamics and specific features of spread).
  • The nature-related (natural) conditioning underpinning the disease’s expansion.
  • Infection, morbidity and mortality as set against societies’ socio-demographic structure.
  • Cause-and-effect linkage between the pandemic (or country’s individual epidemics) and mobility and transport, in both the present and future (forecast) context.
  • The fight against the virus and medical issues (organisation of healthcare, spatial accessibility, etc.).
  • The pandemic’s economic impact, including on trade, the hospitality industries, transport, tourism, etc.
  • Visions of spatial organisation at the levels of the world, Europe, Poland (or other states) and regions, post-pandemic (e.g. as regards nature, the economy, society, urbanisation, migration, tourism, culture, and so on).

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