Document Type



This essay bridges a gap between an analysis of anti-Asian targeting and an analysis of Orientalism. Because histories of Orientalism and anti-Asian targeting pre-date the current moment, I demonstrate the centrality of Orientalism to the evolution of xenophobic language and sentiment in U.S.-foreign historical relations. I recount instances of anti-Asian, xenophobic, and “Yellow-Peril” rhetoric in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, I examine the racialization of COVID-19 as a trope of orientalism. This racialization, I argue, places the Asian-presenting body in a state of heightened visibility, precarity, and susceptibility to plunder. The newfound precarity of the Asian body has been redefined in terms of the epidemiology of COVID-19 and illustrates how today’s Orientalism has been reactivated within the phenomenological space of the human body.



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