Anti-East and Southeast Asian Racism during the Covid-19 Pandemic: Liberal Values, Yellow Peril and 'China' in Italy and the UK
Dr. Wing-Fai Leung, Senior Lecturer in Media, Culture and Creative Industries, King’s College London, will give a guest lecture at the University of Helsinki on October 24, 2022.

Time: 24 October 2022, 10:15-11:30
Venue: Room U4072, univeristy main building, Unioninkatu 34

A rise in anti-East and Southeast Asian (ESEA) racism since early 2020 relates closely to the racialised discourses in political and media representations of the Covid-19 pandemic: the perceived incivility in relation to the origin of the virus, the ‘illiberal’ measures to control it, and the widely circulated patriotic rhetoric. In this talk, Dr. Wing-Fai Leung provides a critical linkage between the ideological underpinning of attitudes towards an imagined ‘Asia’, liberal world views in the global North, and racist discourses during the pandemic, focusing especially on the discursive constructions around the PRC in news journalism. The current discussion is based primarily on a critical discourse analysis of news reportage in Italy (the early stage of Covid-19, January-March 2020) and the UK (January 2020-February 2022), which reveals the persistent discourses of liberalism, exceptionalism, security and risk, and yellow peril, as contextual factors explaining the surge of anti-ESEA racism. In so doing, this analysis presents a conjuncture of racist ideology, liberal values, and the global pandemic, which proves to have a significant impact on the migrant communities of Chinese descent living in Italy and the UK.