Paradox of Korail slum during COVID-19: Ethnography of Governance

Urban slums are one of the most vulnerable communities during the COVID-19 pandemic; overcrowding and resource constraints make physical distancing and self-quarantine nearly impossible, creating a risk of a rapid spread of the infection. The conversations in the media and among other stakeholders were focused on these risk factors as well as the economic distress of the people in slums created by the pandemic. However, these discussions were primarily based on the perspectives of ‘outsiders’, with limited understanding of what was happening in the slums.

With this gap in mind, we conducted an anthropological exploration of Korail, the largest slum in Dhaka city from September to December 2020, to uncover the emic views of slum dwellers’ everyday life during the pandemic and understand the outbreak from their perspective.

Key findings from our study were presented by Dr Shahaduz Zaman, Reader in Medical Anthropology and Global Health, Brighton and Sussex Medical School and Advisor, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University at a webinar titled “Paradox” of Korail slum during COVID-19: Ethnography of Governance From Below” on Thursday, 21 January 2021 from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm (GMT+6).

Din M. Sumon Rahman, PhD, Professor of Media Studies and Journalism & Director of the Office of Faculty Research, University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh and Salma Awwal Shafi, Architect & Urban Planner and Secretary, Centre for Urban Studies, Dhaka, were present at the webinar as panelists.

This study is a part of the Covid Collective initiative. Supported by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the Covid Collective is based at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). The Collective brings together the expertise of, UK and Southern-based research partner organisations and offers a rapid social science research response to inform decision-making on some of the most pressing Covid-19 related development challenges.