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I've written several things in recent years, particularly academic blog articles. Here you can find a non-exhaustive selection of my written work.
From sunbathing to sunstroke: How should we personally respond to the risks of (severe) heat and heatwaves?
11 July 2023
This summer, several weather records have been smashed, with the hottest week ever recorded occurring last week. The heat is becoming a serious problem; some may argue that climate change is on our doorstep and no longer an unimaginable future. But while heatwaves are particularly dangerous, leading to a loss of lives and health risks, above-average temperatures are also risky, even when a heatwave hasn’t been declared officially. In this article, ISS PhD researcher Lize Swartz asks whether we should also be taking action when there are no heatwaves and what role we can play in protecting ourselves—and those around us—from the heat.
I know what you did last summer: are destination conferences a problem?
4 April 2023
Year in and year out, academics send themselves halfway across the world to attend conferences. In an age in which flying for leisure is fast becoming a taboo, are such conferences in which academics and their universities pay large sums of money to converge for brief moments to present their research and to network also becoming impermissible? And are they even more concerning when they take place in ‘exotic’ places at convenient moments – are destination conferences a thing, and are they a problem?
Thinking Transformative Methodologies Collectively
12 January 2022
For research to be called socially transformative, the production of scientific knowledge with the aim of addressing a societal problem is not enough. Research processes themselves must also be socially just, which calls for critical self-examination by researchers of how they do research. A project led by ISS researchers seeks to conceptualise a transformative research methodology that underlines a radically different and morally responsible way of conducting research by identifying and challenging assumptions that perpetuate social injustices in research processes. This post introduces the project and its core premises.
Radio silence during the crisis: how our imperial gaze threatens to sharpen global divides
20 March 2020
The spread of coronavirus COVID-19 across the world has been accompanied by an explosion of activity on social media as people have tried to make sense of the implications of the virus and the speed of change. But the story that is emerging amid the chaos has failed to draw attention to the effect of the virus on low-income groups, making visible a radio silence on the plight of those in the Global South in particular. We need to break the silence to ensure the implementation of inclusive responses and a widening of the narrative beyond that of the privileged, write Lize Swartz and Josephine Valeske.
Driving transformative social change through an internationalist response to COVID-19
13 April 2020
A recent webinar organized by the Transnational Institute and partners brought together activists from all over the world to brainstorm how to make social justice central to our responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The main message? Stand united instead of divided, let empathy inform context-based responses, and start thinking of changing what’s broken, including our healthcare systems. These principles should also guide our collective efforts to enact transformative social change that starts with our responses to the crisis and ends in a sustainable, just and resilient future—one in which no-one is left behind.
Holding Myanmar accountable for acts of genocide is just the start of a long process of justice for the Rohingya
12 December 2019
Public hearings are currently underway at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where Myanmar stands accused of committing genocide against the Rohingya minority after violent crackdowns since 2012 left thousands dead and forced more than one million Rohingya to flee the country. This follows shortly after the Minister of Justice of The Gambia at the International Conclave on Justice and Accountability for Rohingya held at the ISS in October declared that what has transpired in Myanmar over the past years must be named genocide and that The Gambia would lead efforts to hold the Myanmar state accountable through international legal mechanisms. However, this is just the first of several steps to ensure justice for the Rohingya—the human side of what has become a ‘refugee crisis’ needs to be acknowledged, writes Lize Swartz.
Blame games won’t help us address the climate crisis
2 December 2019
The climate crisis is forcing us to rethink our relationship with the world around us and the effect of our own actions (or inaction) on this massive collective action problem. Blame games are becoming a dangerous diversion tactic used to deny responsibility for our own role in the crisis by blaming others for causing it, writes Lize Swartz. Recent developments in the Netherlands and beyond reveal just how far we still have to go to acknowledge the climate crisis as a collective action problem and to rethink our own role as natural resource users in addressing the crisis.
Let’s talk about it: embedding research communication in transformative research
13 February 2021
Discussions on the transformative potential of research have focused little on how research is communicated once it has been conducted and, indeed, while it is conducted. Instead, the focus hitherto has been primarily on data generation processes, with topics such as inclusion, research ethics, and agency frequently discussed. Fundamental questions such as who the knowledge produced through research reaches, at what time, and with which purpose require greater scrutiny, write Dorothea Hilhorst, Lize Swartz, and Adinda Ceelen.
There’s so much we still have to do to address gender injustices once and for all
8 March 2021
Today we celebrate International Women’s Day, but as always, there are some positive developments we can commend and others that we should be horrified about. The COVID-19 pandemic has strongly exacerbated gender injustices and created new gender inequalities. At the same time we can fortunately witness the strengthening of discussions on gender relations and things we’re still doing wrong (and those things we’re setting right). We’ve reached the tip of the iceberg and the rest – the assumptions and silences that perpetuate gender injustices – lurk beneath the surface, a silent colossus standing between us and real progress. In this post, we celebrate attempts to chip away at those parts of gender relations that are less visible, but just as crucial to address.
Resisting environmental and social injustice through commoning
28 May 2020
Social and environmental injustice are increasing globally as neoliberalism tightens its grip. Crisis upon crisis are hitting especially vulnerable populations, interacting to create precarious and untenable living conditions. These issues become more pressing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made more visible to the world the environmentally destructive and socially unjust patterns of our societies. The recovery of more equitable and sustainable ways of life based on communality and interconnectedness is needed to address the hypercomplex global crisis generated by globalized neoliberal capitalism, argues Dr Gustavo García-López, current Prince Claus Chair holder at the ISS. Lize Swartz spoke to him about his work and how commoning can transform the world we live in.
New modalities of online activism: using WhatsApp to mobilize for change by Lize Swartz
17 June 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we are slowly settling in to a ‘new normal’. For many of us, having lived our lives online the last few weeks has made us question the necessity of meeting in person to get things done. Can we also organize online to enact change? While internet access is not yet universal, a recent study shows that WhatsApp can be an important tool for mobilizing. Lize Swartz discusses how new forms of online activism can emerge on WhatsApp and whether it promotes inclusivity.
Rethinking how we communicate on Bliss – a contribution to the decolonization of science
2 March 2020
Research institutes are not only spaces in which research and education take place—they play a political role in sharing knowledge that is intended to benefit society directly or indirectly. Who the knowledge is shared with and in which ways is of extreme importance; publishing research findings and learnings in English limits who can benefit from the research. In an effort to contribute to the decolonization of science, ISS Blog Bliss has decided to encourage the publication of blog articles in the native languages of the authors or the communities participating in the research.
For the redistribution of water, framing matters!
20 July 2021
In the face of increasing pressure on global water resources, a degree of inventiveness in finding just and sustainable ways to ensure access to water is required. The redistribution of water is one possible way in which this could be done. But ongoing research on elite responses to a recent water scarcity crisis in South Africa shows that the redistribution of water resources will not go uncontested by water elites and that existing narratives on the sharing of water are not creating the extent of solidarity needed. We need to frame this action differently, writes Lize Swartz.
The positive effects of systemic collapse — lessons for Cape Town
22 January 2018
Across the world, newsreaders recently started catching on to arguably one of the most pressing challenges in South Africa: The looming collapse of Cape Town’s water supply system. The Cape Town government and residents over the past few years have taken numerous steps to slow the gradual emptying of dams supplying this city, but ‘Day Zero’ is now a real possibility1. While news media show the uncertainty and fear surrounding Day Zero, ongoing research about similar ‘water crises’ in South Africa shows that systemic collapse can also beget positive outcomes.
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