Asian American Solidarities in the Age of COVID-19

We are excited to announce our new series: Asian American Solidarities in the Age of COVID-19. 

Information about the series and contributions can be found below.

Guest Editor:                          Harriet Stilley

Entry Length:                          ca. 1200 words

Submission Deadline:          14 December 2020

Since news of a novel coronavirus began to spread in the U.S., new hate crimes against Asian Americans have averaged 100 a day, with 60% of Asian Americans and one-third of all Americans having personally witnessed an episode of anti-Asian harassment. Despite the FBI warning that this trend may continue assaults that endanger the safety of those targeted, the Trump administration has failed to stop the backlash, instead fuelling an onslaught of race-hatred through the usage of ‘Chinese virus’ anti-Asian rhetoric. Among Republicans in particular, there has consequently developed an environment wherein blaming China and/or Chinese people is seen as ‘not racist at all’ – since the virus, according to President Trump, ‘comes from China!’ – and it is this racially charged environment that fosters far-right ideologies in the form of hateful rhetoric and actions.

For many Asian Americans, the pandemic has thus been a deeply politicising experience, revealing how structural inequalities impact Asian Americans alongside other communities of colour. Indeed, while stories of xenophobic racism may have become disturbingly frequent in the last few months, the acute stigmatisation of Asian Americans is nothing new, but rather an amplification of the historical and current fault lines in the U.S. of race, class, poverty, and health care. Labelled as ‘perpetual foreigners,’ American history is, in truth, laden with examples of non-white groups serving as scapegoats during national crises. Whether it is the ‘Yellow Peril’ fears of Asian immigrants as immoral, unsanitary carriers of disease in the 18th century; the stigmatisation of black and gay communities during the 1980s AIDS pandemic; or the exaggerated fear, hatred, and hostility toward Muslim and Arab Americans in the wake of 9/11; racism following a major disaster is, unfortunately, a common story. The aim of this special series, then, is to broaden the scope of analysis beyond how the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing economic downturn have revived anti-Asian discrimination and to encourage further consideration of the linkages between what is happening now and that history of systemic and cultural bias embedded in American society.

Specifically, this series will explore the various ways in which familiar assimilationist paradigms of Asian American identity formation, such as the perceived success of Asian Americans, are persistently utilised as a means to pit communities of colour against one another; and how the coronavirus pandemic (in line with previous national crises) reveals the gaps in a white supremacist system as Asians, like other people of colour, have become the targets of hate and violence. We are asking for submissions that analyse the Asian American experience through an interdisciplinary range of discourses from the 19th century to the present day, and particularly welcome works that emphasise an intersectional perspective that moves beyond the Asian American community itself to promote a better understanding of how it interacts with greater American society. In doing so, this special series seeks to not only make Asian American culture more accessible to a broader public, but to bring new perspectives to the American experience by comprehensively showcasing how Asian Americans have worked and continue to work in partnership with other minorities to dismantle historic structural racism through creative community resilience.

Possible topics for this special series may include, but are in no way limited to:

  • How disease racialisation compounds pre-existing racial anxieties with fears of an unknown disease
  • How Asian Americans have served as scapegoats during moments of national crisis
  • The consequences of increasing levels of far-right extremist violence on Asian Americans
  • The ramifications of the ‘model minority’ stereotype on Asian Americans and their relationships with other minority ethnic Americans
  • The long history of inter-minority racism between Asian and Black American populations
  • The equally long history of solidarity between Asian and Black American populations

Abstracts of 250 words are due by Monday 14 December 2020 and finished essays of 1200 words are due in January 2020. Each contribution should be accompanied by the author’s short academic bio (ca. 150 words). For any inquiries, please contact the series’ editor, Harriet Stilley, at .

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