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The True Crisis is Neoliberalism: An Analysis of the Palestinian-Led BDS Movement's Pandemic Rhetoric

  • Olivia Rowland Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Keywords: Neoliberalism, Social Justice


Although the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the work of activists around the world, movements for social justice have turned the pandemic into an opportunity to intervene in hegemonic systems, including neoliberalism. One such movement is the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights. In this paper, I analyze the rhetoric of the BDS movement during the early stages of the pandemic to examine how the pandemic has shifted opportunities for rhetors who seek to resist neoliberal hegemony and promote intersectional justice. I find that BDS challenges the dominant frame of the pandemic as a crisis by reframing neoliberalism itself as a crisis. Within this frame, BDS combines multiple perspectives from marginalized groups around the world to enact collectivity as resistance to neoliberal ideology. My analysis suggests that these strategies of disruption are particularly effective against neoliberal ideology in the context of the pandemic. Ultimately, I argue that framing neoliberalism as a crisis offers activists opportunities to reject neoliberal policies and generate solidarity with other groups.

Author Biography

Olivia Rowland, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Picture of Olivia Rowland

Olivia Rowland graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2021 with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric and Women’s Studies. She is currently a first-year MA student in Rhetoric, Writing, and Culture at Oregon State University, where she studies activist rhetorics and feminist pedagogies.

How to Cite
RowlandO. (2022). The True Crisis is Neoliberalism: An Analysis of the Palestinian-Led BDS Movement’s Pandemic Rhetoric. Young Scholars in Writing, 19, 26-39. Retrieved from