Creativity and Community during Covid-19: A Look at Chinese Social Media

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Bowdoin College Associate Professor Belinda Kong shows how ordinary people in China use social media to create community amidst Covid-19.

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As we know, Covid-19 has generated an abundance of coronavirus memes, jokes, and songs on the US internet since March. Less recognized, perhaps, is that Chinese social media too exploded with cultural expressions of epidemic life from January onward. Ordinary people in Wuhan and across the sinophone world documented their experiences under quarantine, created impromptu videos and music to share with others in solidarity, and actively fostered a culture of pandemic humor amid the uncertainties in the early days of Covid. These social media practices may appear too small to be politically or socially significant, but it is precisely through these small acts that common people engaged in everyday forms of social and cultural agency, producing alternative communities and building up a meaningful sense of peopleness outside of official party rhetoric.

Biography

Belinda Kong is Associate Professor of Asian Studies and English at Bowdoin College. Her research and teaching focus on Asian American and Chinese diaspora literature. Her current book project, "What Lived Through SARS: Chronicles of Pandemic Resilience," examines cultures of epidemic life at the epicenters of the 2003 SARS outbreak.

Generously funded by Student Affairs & Diversity at Oakland University.

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Organizer Center for Public Humanities at Oakland University

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