Emergency Narratives

Keywords: metaphors to think with, racism, storytelling, ecofascism

Illustration by Timo Lenzen

Fighting the coronavirus has been described as ‘war’. The virus has also been framed according to its place of origin in China, unleashing waves of anti-Asian racism. Who is the enemy here? How can we better understand the emergence of crisis narratives and the dangerous effects stories can have of social relations? There are also people who highlight the environmental benefits of the current crisis  and call humans a ‘virus’.

The way we understand and navigate the world is heavily influenced by the stories we tell.
This week we explore how a medical and economic crisis is also a crisis of narratives.

Core reference:

Metaphors in the time of coronavirus - Making Science Public By Brigitte Nerlich March 17, 2020.

To watch/listen:

The danger of a single story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

New Political Story, George Monbiot

Extra references:

Humanity isn't a disease - but ecofascism is
By Ruth Wilkinson, April 6, 2020.

Coronavirus is not the 'great equalizer' – race matters: U of T expert  By Roberta K. Timothy, April 8, 2020.

War metaphors used for COVID-19 are compelling but also dangerous By Costanza Musu, April 8, 2020.

COVID-19 at war: between metaphor and reality By François Heisbourg, March 23, 2020.

Reading guide // Discussion questions to prepare:

How do narratives shape how we perceive ourselves and others?
Which narratives do you ascribe to in the current pandemic?
Which stories are missing or underrepresented in the public mainstream reporting on Covid-19 pandemic?