Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Professor Molly Andrews

Molly Andrews is Professor of Political Psychology, and Co-director of the Centre for Narrative Research (https://www.uel.ac.uk/our-research/research-school-education-communities/centre-narrative-research) at the University of East London and was the Jane and Aatos Erkko Professor at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies 2019-2020.  Her research interests include political narratives, the psychological basis of political commitment, political identity, patriotism and aging.   Her books include Lifetimes of Commitment: Aging, Politics, Psychology and Shaping History: Narratives of Political Change (both Cambridge University Press), and Narrative Imagination and Everyday Life  (Oxford University Press) and seven co-edited volumes. Her publications have appeared in five languages.

Summary of Project
“Narrative Imagination, Agency, and the Pandemic Moment”
This project will use my framework of narrative imagination (Andrews 2014) to capture the challenge of narrating the COVID-19 pandemic, and the visions for the future, as documented by individuals based in countries which have been badly hit by the pandemic, for instance the United Kingdom, the United States, India and South Africa – countries with high levels of infection, and controversial governmental policies amplifying already existing inequalities in the society.  This fellowship would be the first step of a larger project, exploring narrative imagination and the role it plays in the reconfiguration of the everyday – revisiting the past, present and future in light of the rupture caused by the pandemic.

In Phase I, I will analyse publically available testimonies and visual material which have been collated by organisations, academics and journalists. Indicative of these are the materials currently being collected by the Columbia University COVID19 Oral History Project, and the Mass Observation Recording Everyday Life in Britain Covid19 Archive. In addition, there are numerous non-institutional projects which I will also consult, for instance the growth in Indian citizen journalism. My close association with NEST (Narrative Enquiry for Social Transformation) in South Africa will be useful in helping me to identify first person accounts of life under lockdown.