Emma Willis – Politics and performances of kindness in the time of coronavirus

Emma Willis

University of Auckland

Politics and performances of kindness in the time of coronavirus

Since late 2018, I have led an interdisclinary research hub at the University of Auckland looking at the politics of kindness in New Zealand. The project developed in response to Jacinda Ardern’s repeated invocation of kindness as a guiding political value. In this paper I consider the performative dimensions to a politics of kindness more generally, as well as reflecting particularly on elements of the response from both government and civil society to coronavirus in New Zealand. My interest is not so much in kindness as a kind of consolatory practice, but in kindness as a practice that has radical potential. I will discuss the role that kindness plays when normative systems of governance and care are disrupted, and draw from a range of artistic, community and institutional examples.

Emma Willis is a Senior Lecturer in Drama at the University of Auckland whose primary research is in the area of theatre and ethics, spectatorship, and theatre and violence. Emma is principal investigator for the University of Auckland research hub, “Agencies of Kindness.”