Xenophobia in the Time of COVID-19: Culture, Race & Stigma

Season 1, Ep. 6

In the last few months, it has been documented, reported and researched that there has been increased prejudice, discrimination and violence around the world against Chinese people and people of Asian descent or appearance. Most prominently, the President of the United States Donald Trump referred to the COVID-19 virus disease as the “Chinese Virus,” followed by fierce backlash.

On April 26, the Office of Diversity Initiatives at New York University Shanghai (NYU Shanghai) held a panel discussion, “Xenophobia in the Time of Coronavirus: Culture, Race & Stigma.” The panelists were: Joanna Waley-Cohen, Provost of NYU Shanghai and Professor of History; Lin Yao, Ph.D. candidate at Yale Law School, public intellectual and activist; and Qiu Yu, lecturer in Social Anthropology at Minzu University of China. 

The panelists discussed the social, political and historical contexts in which China’s citizens, members of its diaspora and people of Asian descent have been stigmatized as carriers of contagion in the time of COVID-19. Looking at both history and the current phenomenon, the panelists examined narratives that link the imagining of an infectious disease with the imagining of “the other.” In addition, the panelists commented on the recent reports of xenophobic incidents targeting African nationals in China, highlighting the historical and psychological roots of racial prejudice.


Joyce Tan


Respect - Aretha Franklin

Editor | Joyce

Audio | Lili

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