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The Contagion of Stigmatization: Racism and Discrimination in the “Infodemic” Moment | Digital Society Network

February 10 @ 4:00 pm

This talk discusses the “secondary contagion” of racism (Chen et al 2020) and other forms of social stigmatization unleashed by the coronavirus outbreak in global context. I begin with a critique of how cultural biases in journalistic reporting and official speech have often reinforced racial prejudices and hierarchies and contributed to the stigmatization and shaming of marginalized communities. I then identify the intentional media manipulation practiced by politicians and authoritarian governments targeting vulnerable groups, opportunistically using fears of the virus and fears of “fake news” to seize political control. Drawing on my own ethnographic work and policy engagement in the Southeast Asian disinformation space, I discuss challenges of moderating and mitigating online expressions which crossover from disinformation to racist speech. I end with a reflection on how scholars conducting risky research can better support each other, manage the mental health impacts of research in COVID times, and develop new tools for community solidarity and allyship.

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