Since British Columbia declared a COVID-19 State of Emergency on March 18, 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes in Vancouver have increased by more than seven times the number of reported incidents during the same period last year. The spike in these attacks reveals a troubling discourse associating Asian bodies with contagion and speaks to a longer legacy of anti-Asian exclusion and racism in North America. This proposed roundtable addresses the racialized narratives of the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to the transnational histories that connect Vancouver, and Canada more broadly, to Asia. Vancouver’s geopolitical relationship to Asia and the Pacific makes the city a unique site through which we can examine transpacific networks of capital, labour and biological contagion. What does COVID-19 reveal about Vancouver’s “porous” relationship to Asia, as a node in the transpacific? How might we respond to the uneven vulnerabilities produced by this global pandemic in our scholarship, community organizing, creative work and policy development?
Danielle Wong is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia. Prior to joining UBC’s English Department, she was a postdoctoral associate in the Asian American Studies Program at Cornell University.
Her research and teaching interests focus on historical and contemporary relationships between race, Empire, and “new” technologies. Her current book project examines Asian North American new media productions and performances, and traces a genealogy of “virtual Asianness” by analyzing how Asian North American racialization has, and continues to be, interwoven with shifting concepts of mediation and virtuality. She is also a faculty affiliate of the Asian Canadian and Migration Studies Program at UBC.