Contextualizing Digital Media in the Global Pandemic(Panel)
Elvin Meng (University of Chicago)
As we (North American academics) think and, moreover, live in the shadow of the global pandemic, the role digital media plays in our no-longer-ordinary lives becomes increasingly salient. During the quarantine, participation in digital lives can be said to be no longer a supplement or replacement for “real life”; instead, it seems to have become its constitutive activity. Nevertheless, this new entanglement between the pandemic and digital media is not devoid of national, political, economic, and linguistic specificities: issues of accessibility, censorship, credibility, and the like cannot be addressed in the abstract. Instead, they only become visible when uses of digital media is contextualized and compared across national and linguistic boundaries. How did information about the pandemic circulate under censorship in Chinese social media? What were the technical difficulties behind universities’ move to online education? How was credibility of medical information constructed in digital media discourses around the world?
This panel welcomes comparative and interdisciplinary studies of digital media practices during the 2020 pandemic. Studies presented will revolve around, without attempting to answer in whole, two key questions. First, how does the 2020 pandemic affect our lives on (and through) digital media? Second, how does digital media, in turn, affect human experience during the pandemic? We particularly welcome scholars who bring their unusual expertise into the discussion, addressing these questions by examining digital media practices across linguistic and national boundaries and/or through substantial engagement with disciplines such as computer science, international studies, public health, or anthropology.
This panel invites papers on the entanglement between digital media practices and human experience during the 2020 pandemic with substantial comparative and/or interdisciplinary components. Use of non-English sources or engagement with disciplines such as computer science, international studies, and medical anthropology is strongly encouraged.