From We to I: Loneliness as Pandemic?
Fay Bound Alberti in conversation with Lars Svendsen
Covid-19 has changed the ways people live in hitherto unimagined ways. Self-isolation, social distancing and loneliness are connected, with up to 50% the world’s population in lockdown. These changes have exacerbated existing concerns about loneliness as a pandemic – concerns that lay behind a “Minister for Loneliness” being created in the U.K. in 2018. Other countries – USA, Germany, Switzerland – may follow suit. Prior to 2019 it was elderly loneliness that caused most concern, arguably because of the health costs for an ageing population. However, recent research like the BBC Loneliness Experiment highlights loneliness in young people. Nobody seems immune. So at this point more than ever, it is critical to consider the history of loneliness, how it affects people differently according to privilege, its bodily effects and how it is political and politicised. Because loneliness is as variable as human experience.
This event is part of a week-long special series to coincide with the publication of our autumn issue that asks the question, "What is We?" The issue will feature contributions from an exciting range of philosophers, classicists, historians, and English scholars, including Dan Zahavi, Brooke Holmes, Todd McGowan, Serene Khader, Fay Bound Alberti, Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, Thomas Szanto, and Donovan Irven. It will be published in mid-October.
Fay Bound Alberti is a Reader in History and UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at the University of York. She is a TED speaker and has published widely on medicine, the body, gender and emotion in books and scholarly articles as well as in the media. Her latest book A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion was published last year. fayboundalberti.com / @fboundalberti
Lars Svendsen is professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bergen, Norway. He is a well-known public philosopher and author of books including A Philosophy of Boredom (2004), A Philosophy of Fear (2008) and A Philosophy of Loneliness (2017).