Vol. 36 No. 3 (2021)
By Susanna Trnka
Citizens do not merely respond to states of emergency; in democratic societies, they help constitute them. This essay analyzes New Zealanders’ engagements in ethical reasoning during the country’s first COVID-19 lockdown. Specifically, I examine how we can understand a variety of public responses to emergency measures—including breaching regulations, threatening rule-breakers, sealing off neighborhoods, and recasting citizen-returnees as “strangers”—as negotiations of ethical proximities focused on keeping appropriately close that which is thought should be near, and keeping distanced that deemed best held afar.
Aotearoa; COVID-19; ethics; lockdown; New Zealand; proxemics; proximity; social distancing; state of emergency; state-citizen relations