Chinese voices in the age of Covid-19
Ross Forman & Dee Wu (English) | Anne Gerritsen & Ni Leiyun (History) | Xie Kailing (PAIS)
This project has truly been a collaborative effort, bringing together several projects that emerged from different contexts and individuals. Ross Forman and Dee Wu were interested in finding out the ways in which representations of Chinese food cultures and practices changed in the months after the initial outbreak of Covid-19 in a food market in Wuhan; Anne Gerritsen and Ni Leiyun wanted to bring together voices of activism against heightened anti-Asian racism, and Xie Kailing had been working on interviews with members of the Chinese community in Coventry. By bringing these different porjects together, we were able to reveal 'Chinese voices in the age of Covid-19'.
The projects have all been brought together on a WordPress site, entitled 'Chinese Voices of Covid-19', where you can find far more information about each of the projects, so please head over there for the full details of each of the three projects. In this blog post, we reflect briefly on the inspirations and concerns that led to the separate projects.
The strand of the project entitled 'Prejudice and Pride' was led by Ross Forman and Dee Wu, two literary scholars. Dr Dee Wu did her Master and PhD degree at Warwick. Her doctoral dissertation was entitled “The Cultural Legacy of Oscar Wilde in Modern China and Beyond (1909–2019)”, and was supervised by Dr Ross Forman, who works, amongst other things, on British imperialism during the long nineteenth century, with a special interest in the relationship between Britain and China and Southeast Asia. Their interest here was in representations of China, across various genres and media. The pieces on the WordPress site reveal very personal experience of Covid-19 and make a powerful statement about internal racism within the Chinese community. But Wu also found it necessary to explain exactly what her position is--born in multi-cultural Chengdu, educated both within and outside the PRC--by way of a disclaimer that she doesn't intend to use her personal experience to represent 'all Chinese people', which tells us something about the sensitivities involved in writing about 'internal racism' within the Chinese community. (Read her full disclaimer here.)
Ni Leiyun is a PhD student in the Department of History, writing a PhD supervised by Professor Anne Gerritsen and Dr. Song-Chuan Chen on the role of food in the encounters between the British and Chinese empire, especially in nineteenth-century Canton. Leiyun had been involved with several groups of activists who were organising activities in light of the intensification of anti-Asian racism after the outbreak of Covid-19. She held several interviews with scholars and activists who have been speaking out in this environment, and these interviews have been posted on the blog under the heading Voices/Activism. One of these features Joyce Tan, who is based at NYU Shanghai. She and others established a website called ‘unCover’, aimed at raising issues including Sinophobia, Xenophobia and Black Lives Matter Movement, all of which have become even more urgent under Covid-19. The full interview can be found here.
The second interview was with Dr Kailing Xie, based in the Politics Department at the University of Warwick. The full interview can be read here. Kailing offered the third project represented under this heading of Chinese voices under Covid-19.
Kailing's project was entitled 'Making Alien-land Home-land‘ (且认他乡作故乡), and offers a stunning visual documentation of Chinese communities in Coventry. It features interviews with members of the local community in different generations and spaces. The whole project is also an exhibition, curated by a local artist, revealing the lost voices and faces of Chinese people living in Coventry, especially their sense of identity and belonging(s). The aim of Kailing's project was to promotes cross-cultural understanding of different ethnic groups in Coventry, and was sponsored by a Warwick University’s City of Culture Award. Again, head over to the Wordpress site for the full details.
The five different flavours–sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, salty–that commonly appear in Chinese cuisine, as well as a phrase used to express a mixture of complex feelings or emotions caused by a certain event.
Check out the first blogpost for a beautiful discussion of these poems written on boxes filled with masks.
Some of the images of the campaigns Leiyun has been involved in on anti-Asian racism.
Artwork on the theme of 'home' (家)
One of the interviews, all of which are available on Youtube (find the links on the 'Making Alien-land Home-land')