Rarely do major research themes spring upon a discipline so suddenly that scholars must proceed without a robust research foundation upon which to build, without widespread knowledge of relevant works that do exist, and without the time to consult thoroughly with peers to develop a common research agenda. Such a situation is all the more remarkable for topics that have the potential to impact virtually all aspects of politics in all countries of the world. Yet this is the challenge scholars face with the COVID-19 pandemic. While it is probably fair to say that most political scientists would have agreed, if asked, that a severe pandemic could have political consequences, the topic of pandemic politics is all but absent in the discipline’s most-read journals, and precious few political scientists have heretofore focused substantially on health politics. Thus while Eurasia has certainly experienced pandemics in the past (Cromley 2010), any lessons that might have been drawn from them have remained, at best, peripheral to the study of politics in the region.
This article seeks to help scholars meet this research (and teaching) challenge as it pertains to one particular part of the world, Eurasia. It does so by bringing together (virtually, due to the pandemic) a large multinational group of coauthors, mostly but not only political scientists, to hammer out a broad research agenda for the field. The group includes some of the few who have long made health a centerpiece of their own scholarly inquiry as well as many who are expert on key topics that now intersect with the pandemic and who are rapidly “tooling up” on the health side. Jointly, we hope to have produced a document that scholars will find useful in identifying important questions for research, framing debates, advancing some ideas, and directing scholars who are now (like us) rigorously engaging pandemic politics to relevant prior studies.