The virus scare as a mirror to ourselves and our society

HIV was associated with 'dark' Africa, Mers with Arabs, and now, the coronavirus is being linked with 'dirty' Asians. How we view diseases speaks volumes about how we see others.

I teach a Discourse Analysis course at my university. During a recent class, my students and I discussed popular perceptions of the coronavirus outbreak and the manner in which the public domain today is saturated with the language of fear.

The students read and referred to writings of cultural scholars such as Susan Sontag (Illness As Metaphor, 1978; Aids And Its Metaphors, 1989) as well as Frank Furedi (How Fear Works: The Culture Of Fear In The 21st Century, 2018).

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2020, with the headline 'The virus scare as a mirror to ourselves and our society'. Print Edition | Subscribe