Epidemics, labour and mobility

What: Our tenth issue, on the theme of ‘Epidemics, labour and mobility’, to be published in June 2020

The spread of the coronavirus pandemic shows in stark terms the role of migration and (im)mobility in a crisis. For our next edition, Routed welcomes submissions on the relationship between epidemics, labour and mobility.


Since the rise of COVID-19, borders have been closed, travel routes shut down, whole countries placed in quarantine, and families divided. Of course, this is not the first pandemic, but given the world’s reliance on mobility, of both people and goods, its effect has never been clearer. Mobility within and between cities is restricted as much of everyday life closes down. We are reminded of just how interconnected our world is. 


As with many crises, those on the move feel the effects most acutely, particularly people with mobile livelihoods. Travel bans are shaking immigration systems, with widespread border closures reducing movement at an unprecedented rate. Outside the spotlight, the pandemic places pressure on the plight and resilience of those whose livelihoods rely on mobility – such as domestic workers, taxi drivers, street vendors, health sector professionals, hospitality workers, delivery drivers, and gig economy workers. 


With borders closing, people with mobile livelihoods are prevented from migrating for work, or from returning home to be with family. As well, migrant workers may find themselves out of work – due to illness, business closure or failure in the usual networks or infrastructures they rely on – with limited access to welfare or healthcare in a time of need, and reduced capacity to send remittances to family. In turn, many economies are facing gaps in their workforces where migrants or seasonal workers are relied on for everything from fruit picking to domestic care. This edition will explore, in essence, how the livelihoods of mobile workers have been impacted by this, or other, epidemics.


Routed is collaborating with the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy & Society (COMPAS) to produce this edition. Some of the articles submitted to Routed may be republished in the COMPAS Coronavirus and Mobility Forum (in discussion with authors). Please see here for more information on the Forum.

We are particularly interested in publishing work that lifts up the voices of people on the move and exploring human (im)mobility in its many varied forms. We welcome analytical content as well as personal testimonies of experiences of mobility and immobility in the context of pandemics. We are also keen on receiving pieces that analyse current news about migration and (im)mobility, or reflect on cultural production related to these topics.

Articles should address a broad audience, made of experts and non-experts, and should be originally written in English or Spanish.

When: The deadline for proposals is 2nd May.

How: If you are interested in proposing a submission for this issue, please send us a short abstract no longer than 250 words via email to:

Article guidelines:

  1. The length of the piece should be between 700 and 1000 words.

  2. The article should consistently use British spelling and grammar, if you’re writing in English.

  3. The simpler the language the better. Try to briefly explain or add links to any concepts, organisations, policies… introduced in the article.

  4. Concepts and cited works/legislation/articles should be inserted in the article as hyperlinks.

  5. All acronyms should be specified in parentheses.

Some notes on the publication process:

  1. Once you send us your proposal, we will get back to you after the deadline for all submissions (2nd May).

  2. First drafts are due on 23rd May, for publication on 20th June. After you send us your first draft, your editor will get back to you with their comments, which you will review before publication.
  3. The article will be translated and promoted on social media.
  4. We understand this topic may be highly sensitive. If any writer wishes to remain anonymous, we commit to protecting their identity.

  5. Please be aware that any opinions you express in your article will be yours alone and not reflect Routed's general stance.

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