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A timely exploration of the global explosion in xenophobia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through a close analysis of four cases from around the world, this book explores prejudice toward groups who are thought to have caused and spread COVID-19: the residents of Wuhan and Black African communities in China; ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Israel; African-Americans in the United States and Black/Asian/mixed ethnic communities in the United Kingdom; and White right-wing groups in the United States and Europe. The authors examine stereotyping and the false attribution of blame towards these groups, as well as what happens when a collective is actually at fault, and how the community deals with these conflicting issues.
This is a timely, cogent examination of the blame and xenophobia that have been brought to the surface by the COVID-19 pandemic.
About the Author
Xun Zhou is a research fellow at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
Sander L. Gilman is Distinguished Professor of the Arts and Sciences at Emory University. He is the author or editor of over sixty books, including Jurek Becker: A Life in Five Worlds, Health and Illness: Images of Difference, and Smoke: A Global History of Smoking.
“The questions of where [COVID-19] came from, and just who is responsible for all this devastation and loss, have assumed outsize importance. This is perhaps why blame has become central to many discussions, with all the problems that brings. People want to know whose fault COVID-19 is. Zhou and Gilman explore this territory in their book... The authors examine the experiences of, and attitudes towards, a number of groups that have found themselves in the spotlight.” — Guardian
"This book is a timely contribution to contemporary debates about racism and xenophobia, and how to understand them in order to combat them more effectively in the context of this pandemic. . . . The book provides a range of evidence on the backstories involved, the histories of pandemics and reactions to them in earlier times. There is a wealth of detail, covering a wide range of materials." — Morning Star
"Zhou and Gilman have jointly written a timely, relevant book that looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic ignited xenophobic tendencies long present in society... Weaving history, public health, and social commentary together, the book reveals the influence of political rhetoric on policies and health behaviors (e.g., masking, vaccinating) as well as assigning blame during pandemics. Recommended." — Choice
"Zhou and Gilman should be congratulated for their deeply intriguing, thought-provoking book, which will appeal and be of great use to a broad general audience, as well as medical and public health practitioners. The cultural contagiousness of xenophobia, of blaming pandemics on non-Western and marginalized out-groups certainly bears witness to a long history of public health, one we have repeatedly witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic." — H-Net
“While still in the midst of a public health crisis, we are fortunate to have two scholars who expertly weave their way through the infectious and symbolic threats that have roiled us all. Mass death and moral panics, scapegoating and the weaponization of past victimhood, examples like SARS, Ebola, and AIDS, communal dynamics around race and religion: all these and more have been scrambled in the great distress of this plague. Through their nuanced analyses, Gilman and Zhou allow us to reconsider these matters and the forces that have distorted and upended attempts to respond to a global pandemic as just that.”
— George Makari, director of the DeWitt Wallace Institute of Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medicine, and author of "Of Fear and Strangers: A History of Xenophobia"
“If information about COVID-19 matters, read this book. Because information is what viruses provide us for better or worse. It is we who bring life to viruses—to the biological information they contain; to our reactions when we believe ourselves invaded; and to our xenophobic responses towards those we in turn blame. Indeed, there are many important lessons in this incisive analysis by Zhou and Gilman—about our sense of self; about our responsibilities and freedoms; about our fears of the foreign; and, above all, about our values and what we desire for the future. It is a brilliant accomplishment!” — A. David Napier, author of "The Age of Immunology: Conceiving a Future in an Alienating World"