During 2021, supported by the British Academy, we collaborated with Jessica Scantlebury and Kirsty Pattrick at the Mass Observation Archive (MOA) to organise a seminar series on everyday life in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over six months, 16 papers were presented by 20 speakers from universities, archives, and think tanks in the UK, elsewhere in Europe, and the USA. The 95 registered audience members were spread across these locations and more.
Some of the speakers focused specifically on Mass Observation’s COVID-19 collections, contextualising them in the history of Mass Observation and everyday life studies, interpreting them for what they tell us about everyday life in the UK during the pandemic, and discussing the methodological challenges of using these collections. Other talks focused on other pandemic diary projects and collections – including the Lothian Diary Project, the Young Foundation’s COVID-19 and Community Life project, and the Everyday Life in Middletown Project – and other qualitative research projects completed during the pandemic. Themes covered by the talks included: the ethics of presenting everyday life; time and temporality; fear; uncertainty; the experiences of women; mobility; and social infrastructure.
Six videos covering the full series of talks can be found on Mass Observation’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLHab2Tt38DJF9GS_z3lwzV1YJIBqjCLI6.
Nick Clarke (University of Southampton) – Some lessons from the literature.
Claire Langhamer (University of Sussex) – Mass-Observing the pandemic.
Kirsty Pattrick (University of Sussex) and Jessica Scantlebury (University of Sussex) – Mass Observation’s Covid-19 collections.
Ben Highmore (University of Sussex) – The observation by everyone of everyone.
Nick Hubble (Brunel University London) – Self-reflexive writing, everyday life and social change in Mass Observation narratives.
Mathew Thomson (University of Warwick) – Reflections on the histories of Covid, mental health and the NHS via Mass Observation.
Dawn Lyon (University of Kent) and Rebecca Coleman (Goldsmiths) – Making time and feeling time: Temporal orientations to the coronavirus pandemic.
Clive Barnett (University of Exeter) – Fearful practices: Temporalities of anxiety and anticipation during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Perpetua Kirby (University of Sussex) and Rebecca Webb (University of Sussex) – Covid-19 and educating for uncertainty.
Annebella Pollen (University of Brighton) – Picturing the pandemic in Mass Observation’s Covid collections.
Kirsty Pattrick (University of Sussex) – Women, wellbeing, and the natural environment during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Claire Cowie (University of Edinburgh) – The Lothian Diary Project.
Victoria Boelman (The Young Foundation) – Covid-19 & Community Life: A creative digital diary approach to understanding community life during a global pandemic.
Patrick Collier (Ball State University) and James Connolly (Ball State University) – Time shifts: Future orientation in pandemic everyday life.
Mary Greene (Wageningen University) – Consumption and shifting temporalities of daily life during disruption: Undoing and reassembling household practices during COVID-19.
Anna-Lisa Mueller (Bielefeld University) – Social infrastructures in times of Corona: Exploring the ambiguities of sociality, practices and materiality through collaborative autoethnography.
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