COVID-19 and Anti-Asian Prejudice in Digital Communication

Massimiliano Demata (University of Turin) and Natalia Knoblock (Saginaw
Valley State University) are inviting additional proposals for a
thematic issue of the Journal of Language and Discrimination. The issue
is devoted to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on anti-Asian
prejudice and its representation in digital discourses.

As reported, racism and anti-Chinese sentiments increased significantly
after the start of the pandemic and have been directly linked to it
(Vachuska, 2020). Disturbingly, over ¾ of Chinese Americans polled about
their experiences reported being victim of at least one incident of
COVID19-related racial discrimination online and/or in person, and over
half reported experiencing health-related Sinophobia (Cheah et al.,
2020; Lee, 2020). Verbal and physical attacks on Asian Americans have
been linked to racism and xenophobia deeply entrenched in the US
society, and to the “us vs. them” worldview relegating Asian Americans
to the bottom of the social hierarchy (Gover, Harper & Langton, 2020).
Such feelings have been at least partly caused or exacerbated by the
inflammatory rhetoric of US politicians (Wu, 2020), and there has been
evidence of former president Trump’s tweets causing an uptick in
anti-Asian verbal aggression on Twitter (Ziems et al., 2020).
Researchers have analyzed the victims’ narratives (Satoh & Kaori 2021)
and even identified counter-discourses employing linguistic creativity
to oppose hate (Zhu, 2020).

The JLD thematic issue aims to continue research into racially motivated
anti-Asian hate speech and verbal aggression amplified during the
Coronavirus pandemic. It will expand beyond the US context and explore
the effects of the pandemic on the prejudice and discrimination toward
the Chinese, and, broadly, toward all groups and ethnicities
collectively blamed for the outbreak of the disease. We are especially
interested in the links between particular news reports and/or
inflammatory rhetoric of certain public figures and the increase of
verbal aggression toward those blamed for the epidemic. Studies
investigating expressions of hateful attitudes, communicative strategies
involved in blaming and scapegoating, legitimation of hate, and racism
denialism are welcome, as well as evaluation of the role of the digital
medium in shaping and dissemination of hateful content. A variety of
approaches and methods are appropriate, including but not limited to
digital and critical discourse analysis, multimodal analysis,
corpus-driven and corpus-assisted studies. Interdisciplinary studies are
particularly welcome. No publication payment from the authors will be

Please submit an abstract of 350-400 words by April 15 to Natalia
Knoblock ([log in to unmask]) and Massimiliano Demata
([log in to unmask]).  In your abstract, clearly state the
aims and research questions of your paper, its theoretical foundations,
the data and methods used to analyze the data chosen, as well as some of
your findings. Full articles will be due by July 31 and are expected to
go into the March 2023 issue of JLD.

Cheah, C. S., Wang, C., Ren, H., Zong, X., Cho, H. S. & Xue, X. (2020).
COVID-19 racism and mental health in Chinese American families.
Pediatrics, 146(5). DOI: 10.1542/peds.2020-021816
Gover, A. R., Harper, S. B., & Langton, L. (2020). Anti-Asian hate crime
during the COVID-19 pandemic: Exploring the reproduction of inequality.
American Journal of Criminal Justice, 45(4), 647-667.
Satoh A. & Kaori, H. (2021). The Impact of COVID-19 on Communication:
Immigration, Media Representation, and globalization. Panel at the 17th
International Pragmatics Conference. Retrieved from
Vachuska, K. F. (2020). Initial Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic on
Racial Prejudice in the United States: Evidence from Google Trends.
SocArXiv. DOI:10.31235/
Wu, N. (2020, March 18). USA Today: GOP senator says China 'to blame'
for coronavirus spread because of 'culture where people eat bats and
snakes and dogs'. USA Today. Retrieved from
Ziems, C., He, B., Soni, S., & Kumar, S. (2020). Racism is a virus:
Anti-asian hate and counterhate in social media during the covid-19
crisis. arXiv[Preprint].arXiv: 2005.12423.
Zhu, H. (2020). Countering COVID-19-related anti-Chinese racism with
translanguaged swearing on social media. Multilingua, 39(5), 607-616.