This piece provokes discussions about the pathological performativities of COVID-19, the British state and UK higher education. We argue that despite the apparent disconnectedness of these components, the connecting fabric is one of a necropolitical (Mbembé and Meintjes Citation2003) nature. This socio-political hegemony is constitutive of and through the ‘performativity of happiness’ as a mechanism of oppression. Universities as sites and locations where multiple oppressions are produced and enacted, can also be sites of potential mobilised empowerment. The pathological politics of COVID-19 rests on these mechanics, while the potential for liberatory solidarities is already at work in resistance.


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

Cite as

Keval, H. & Wright, T. 2021, 'Necropolitical constructions of happiness, COVID-19 and higher education', Critical Studies on Security, 9(2), pp. 170-173. https://doi.org/10.1080/21624887.2021.1978644

Downloadable citations

Download HTML citationHTML Download BIB citationBIB Download RIS citationRIS
Last updated: 02 March 2023
Was this page helpful?