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Rhythmanalysis of Life during Physical Distancing for Covid-19: Sri Lankans in Brussels, Belgium

Authors:

Koen De Wandeler ,

Campus St. Lucas Brussels, Belgium, LK
About Koen
KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture
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Rishika Mariella Mendis,

Campus St. Lucas Brussels, BE
About Rishika Mariella
KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture
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Sonya Milanthi Nanayakkara,

Campus St. Lucas Brussels, Belgium, LK
About Sonya Milanthi
KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture
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Mahishini Vasudevan

Campus St. Lucas Brussels, BE
About Mahishini
KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture
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Abstract

This paper presents case studies of Sri Lankans who were confined in lockdown in the Brussels Capital Region (BCR) during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. It does so through research that Sri Lankan students produced within the framework of an explorative study conducted from March until May 2020. The study revolved around an exercise in rhythmanalysis as part of a course on Urban Anthropology at the KU Leuven Faculty of Architecture. It involved 73 Master students as well as the respective respondents that each of them had selected among their countrymen residing in the BCR. The assignment was to document how the COVID-19 pandemic evolved in Belgium and their home country, to observe how that progression affected residents’ behaviour and public life in both contexts, and to record what usage the respondents made of social media to stay in touch with people back home.

 

The first section of this paper reviews Lefebvre’s rhythmanalysis theory and various ways in which it has been interpreted over the years. The second section describes how the theory was applied within the said Urban Anthropology course, how the methodology of the 2020 assignment was adapted to the COVID-19 context and what contextual information emerged from the amalgamated research outputs. The next three sections specify how the three Sri Lankan students handled the assignment. One reiterates the progression of the COVID-19 situation in the BCR and Colombo based on media reports and the students’ participant observation in public life. The next presents the students’ observations ‘as seen from the window’ i.e., from the limited perspective they had left on neighbourly life amidst lockdown. A third one details observations derived in collaboration with their respective respondents from recording and examining the respondent’s online behavior over 72 hours.

 

The last section of the paper assesses how the Sri Lankan observations mesh with overall outcomes of the study and what the research revealed about the level of adaptation that voluntary migrants achieved amidst confinement in the BCR. As part of their final reflections, the authors appraise the added value of the exercise as a whole and of rhytmanalysis as a research tool in particular.
How to Cite: De Wandeler, K., Mendis, R.M., Nanayakkara, S.M. and Vasudevan, M., 2019. Rhythmanalysis of Life during Physical Distancing for Covid-19: Sri Lankans in Brussels, Belgium. Cities People Places : An International Journal on Urban Environments, 4(2), pp.1–24. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/cpp.v4i2.45
Published on 30 Dec 2019.
Peer Reviewed

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