Sinophobic Epidemics in America: Historical Discontinuity in Disease-related Yellow Peril Imaginaries of the Past and Present

Journal of Medical Humanities 42 (1):63-80 (2021)
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Abstract

Modern scholarship has drawn hasty and numerous parallels between the Yellow Peril discourses of the 19th- and 20th-century plagues and the recent racialization of infectious disease in the 21st-century. While highlighting these similarities is politically useful against Sinophobic epidemic narratives, Michel Foucault argues that truly understanding the past’s continuity in the present requires a more rigorous genealogical approach. Employing this premise in a comparative analysis, this work demonstrates a critical discontinuity in the epidemic imaginary that framed the Chinese as pathogenic. Consequently, those seeking to prevent future disease racialization must understand modern Sinophobia as fundamentally distinct from that of the past.

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References found in this work

Nietzsche, Genealogy, History.Michel Foucault - 1978 - In John Richardson & Brian Leiter (eds.), Nietzsche. Oxford University Press. pp. (139-164).

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