‘It came from China; it’s a Chinese virus’ : Indexical links, social values and racist negotiations in COVID-19 representations on Twitter



Lampropoulou, Sofia, Cooper, Paul, Pye, Elizabeth and Griffiths, Megan
(2023) ‘It came from China; it’s a Chinese virus’ : Indexical links, social values and racist negotiations in COVID-19 representations on Twitter. Journal of Language and Discrimination, 7 (1). pp. 94-117.

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Abstract

<jats:p>This study examines the negotiations of racism by Twitter users in the representation of the COVID-19 crisis during the first wave of the pandemic. We focus on expressions that target China as the place where COVID originated such as ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘Kung flu’. The repeated use and discussion of these terms on social media serves to create, establish and reinforce indexical links (Silverstein 2003) to social values, which relate to ideological conceptions of China and Chinese culture. Additionally, Twitter users’ crisis processing involves the renegotiatation of indexical links to social values that coincides with the engagement in sociopolitical debates that frequent online media environments, resulting in sociological fractionation (Agha 2007); the ideological opposition between Twitter user groups involves statements such as ‘Kung flu is racist but COVID originated in China’s dirty markets.’ We see such disclaimers as examples of ‘liquid racism’ (Weaver 2011) that, while they are difficult to pin down as racist, they naturalise Sinophobia as the dominant discourse in our dataset. We conclude that racism in our data is a resource embedded in blame attribution that is compatible with crisis processing.</jats:p>

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 36 Creative Arts and Writing, 4701 Communication and Media Studies, 47 Language, Communication and Culture, 3605 Screen and Digital Media, Prevention, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Coronaviruses, Infectious Diseases
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of the Arts
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2023 11:10
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2024 00:35
DOI: 10.1558/jld.22178
Related URLs:
URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3166990