MUSTS Colloquium with Ine van Hoyweghen on ‘Navigating Political Cultures of Solidarity’


Wednesday, February 24, 2021, 15:30-17:00

The link to this online event can be requested by sending an email to j{dot}bruyninckx{at}maastrichtuniversity{dot}nl


In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the small country of Belgium hit the international headlines, owing to one of the worst death tolls in the world. This prompted commentators to ask “why Belgium” has done so badly in the COVID-19 crisis management. Drawing on Renée Fox’ ethnographic writings on Belgian culture and institutions, as well as STS scholarship on national political cultures, I will delve into the way Belgium has dealt with the COVID-19 outbreak, with the intent to tease out the distinctive “Belgianness” of the COVID-19 crisis, and the role thereby played by solidarity. Unlike international analysis that trace the Belgian crisis to its federal political structure, I will set out to demonstrate how a distinctive “political culture of solidarity” in the country has prominently shaped approaches and reactions to crisis management. Based on these insights, I will speculate on Belgium as a “Mini-Europe” to probe a critical reflection on the mobilization of solidarity in Europe in COVID-19 times.



Ine Van Hoyweghen is Professor at the Centre for Sociological Research (KU  Leuven) where she directs the Life Sciences & Society Lab. She is a leading and internationally-renowned researcher in sociology of biomedicine, science and technology studies (STS), and sociology of health care innovation. Her main research activities concentrate on the social aspects and implications of new biomedical technologies. She published among other issues on topics such as genetic discrimination, behaviour-based personalisation, solidarity in personalised medicine, EU digital health policies, health care delivery of genetic testing, epigenetics, citizen science, and global health innovation. Van Hoyweghen is founding Deputy Chair of the Leuven Institute for Genomics and Society (LIGAS) and Chair of the Leuven Interdisciplinary Platform for the Study of the Sciences (LIPSS). She is Alumnus Member of the Young Academy of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Science and the Arts (KVAB), Member of the Belgian Consultative Committee on Bioethics, and founding Chair of the Belgian Science, Technology & Society Network.