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Stories of Quarantine

In April 2020 it became clear that the COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented epidemiological (and not only) experience for Ukraine and the whole world in the 21st century. Then Centre for Urban History, together with the Programs of Cultural Studies, Sociology and Master’s Program in History of the Ukrainian Catholic University set up a competition aiming at capturing this period in memories and reflections. It got the name “Quarantine Experiences.” There were more than two hundred e-mails and handwritten letters, where people contemplated the following topics:
 
  • Space: city/village/house/apartment during the quarantine. What was important and not important, accessible and inaccessible? What were the new opportunities and limitations? How did the sense of space change? What did distance and topography become?
  • Everyday life. Which activities remained the same and which changed? Which inventions and tricks helped me to cope with new challenges? What did lack the most and which lack it was easy to accept? How did people support others and feel their support? How did the family budget, the structure of expenses, and earnings change? What kind of emotions accompanied me during the day?
  • Creativity. What filled people’s free time? Who did they spend it with (close and at distance, together and separately)? How did the “online mode” and isolation influence the perception of artworks and cultural events, or personal creative practices? Which personal talents did people discover? How was it possible to create something together distantly? How was it possible to join group activities that made me happy?
 
The winning texts (as well as more than forty stories and fragments) became the basis for the book, which the competition team is working on together with the publishing house “Choven.” Along with that, we decided to create a sociological collection out of the received texts, a selection of cross-cutting topics raised in the stories and reflections. While choosing these topics (code branches) we started from three thematic areas, which the participants of our competition were invited to think about. Having read all the stories, we divided three initial areas into several categories, based on the reflections of our narrators. Therefore, the following code branches were formed:
 
SPACE
 
TIME
 
PRACTICES
 
EDUCATION
 
MOBILITY
 
RELATIONS
 
FEARS
 
OPPORTUNITIES
 
PERSONIFICATION
 
MATERIAL SITUATION
 
All the quotes are anonymous, the personal data about the narrators are limited to such data as gender, age, profession, location. In such a way this collection creates a kind of “collective experience” when in personal reflections everyone can find their own part. The separate file with contributors’ names is included into this collection.
 
The tree of codes was prepared by Natalia Otrishchenko, PhD in sociology, and Inga Kozlova, PhD in sociology and Associate Professor of Sociology in Ukrainian Catholic University, Head of Sociological Laboratory. The coding was performed by Inga Kozlova. The names of all the people, who told about their 2020 spring and summer experiences are available in a separate list. We are grateful to each and every one of them for their sincerity and willingness to share!

Development of this collection was supported by the Center for Governance and Culture in Europe at the University of St. Gallen.
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Stories of Quarantine
Fears
The "Fears" category contains feelings associated with the risk of becoming ill or dying from a coronavirus: personally or a loved one.
Relations
The category brings together reflections on relations at all levels – with a partner, family, relatives, friends, as well as with oneself and own body.
Change of attitude and new opportunities
The category is about changing life priorities under the influence of a pandemic, awareness of the value of the moment and the search for opportunities to be creative.
Personification
The "Personification" category contains two stories: on behalf of a cat and a smartphone.
Material situation
The "Material situation" category describes the experiences of job loss and search, financial uncertainty, and cost savings during a pandemic.
Contributors
The list of contributors, whose texts are quoted in this collection.