Are discourse analysts ‘essential workers’?

When I was in the first grade the teacher asked us to stand up one by one and tell the class what our fathers did. This was 1965, and so questions about what our mothers did rarely came up. I watched all my classmates declare proudly that their fathers were postmen, or firemen, or constructionContinue reading “Are discourse analysts ‘essential workers’?”

How to make sense of communication and interaction in a pandemic

Since mid February 2020, when I first heard that the coronavirus pandemic had started to hit Northern Italy (where my parents are based) and was heading for to the UK (where I am based), I have perceived a sense of urgency in trying to make sense of the implications of this crisis for our socialContinue reading “How to make sense of communication and interaction in a pandemic”

COVID-19 Mis/Disinformation on WhatsApp

In times of social distancing and lockdown as a result of the global COVID-19 outbreak, digital media have become all the more central to our everyday lives. They enable us to communicate and stay connected with others without spatial or temporal constraints (as I am doing through this blog post), to learn, and to entertainContinue reading “COVID-19 Mis/Disinformation on WhatsApp”

How to construct COVID-19 as a national security threat in public discourse?

COVID-19 is costing humankind dearly. It is without a doubt that the global pandemic has altered the way we live in terms of social norms, economic structures and political priorities, and some of these changes may stay with us for a long time. On 30th January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreakContinue reading “How to construct COVID-19 as a national security threat in public discourse?”

Urban public signs during a pandemic

Walking down empty streets during the early days of the lockdown in London, I cannot help noticing the new signs in shop fronts and other public spaces. They are silent messengers that remind the passers-by that we are in a different, very special time and space. They tell the stories of their authors—how they respondContinue reading “Urban public signs during a pandemic”

#HateIsAVirus: Talking about COVID-19 ‘Hate’

A recent report by moonshot found that there has been a 300% rise in hashtags on Twitter that “encourage or incite violence against China and Chinese people”. The tech company analyzed 193,000 COVID-19 related tweets between Feb 21 and Apr 17, 2020, and generated the top 10 English hashtags that potentially encourage violence or ‘hate’.Continue reading “#HateIsAVirus: Talking about COVID-19 ‘Hate’”

Face masks and cultural identity on YouTube

Unlike hand washing, about which there is unanimous agreement when it comes to fighting coronavirus, the practice of wearing face masks is still a contentious, emotional issue, evolving into a complex moral question about civic responsibility and altruism in many countries. The question of whether to mask or not is interpreted by some as evidenceContinue reading “Face masks and cultural identity on YouTube”

The pandemic of capitalism

Guest author Dr Christian Chun, University of Massachusetts, Boston In the past 30 years or so, our lives have become more endangered by the rapid and dire changes to our environment, dramatically evidenced in the recent wildfires around the world due to increasing global warming and ensuing droughts. It had been estimated by scientists thatContinue reading “The pandemic of capitalism”

Order out of chaos: Covid-19 threat levels and the manufacture of competence

When I was teaching in China in the 1980s, no matter what essay topic I would set for my students, there was always a good portion of the class that chose to write about ‘The Four Modernizations’, which was the key Party policy at the time and the theme of a massive and constant propagandaContinue reading “Order out of chaos: Covid-19 threat levels and the manufacture of competence”

When the internet gets ‘coronified’: Pandemic creativity and humor in internet memes

Since its outbreak in late 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has become a global health crisis of unprecedented magnitude in a matter of a few months and claimed thousands of lives. The pandemic forced billions of people around the world to stay home in quarantines and lockdowns and quickly adapt to sudden changes in living andContinue reading “When the internet gets ‘coronified’: Pandemic creativity and humor in internet memes”