Disease, geopolitics, and militaristic rhetoric: An interdisciplinary critical analysis of the public debates on COVID-19 in the UK and USA (João Florêncio)

By João Florêncio

Led by Dr João Florêncio and comprised of a team of data scientists, cultural theorists, and computational social scientists, this project hopes to examine public debates on COVID-19 in the UK and USA, focusing on how militaristic rhetoric and imagery has been deployed over time in news media, social media, and official government statements. It uses cultural analysis and computational methods to map the rhetoric used in both countries’ responses to the pandemic, contextualising it in relation to the history of immunological and epidemiological paradigms, and comparing it with other public health crises (e.g. HIV and AIDS, SARS, the “war on drugs”), the aim being to offer a set of critical recommendations aimed at widening the publics addressed by COVID-19 communications, and at increasing the adherence of different demographics to the required behavioural changes, whilst taking into critical account the ethics and human rights implications of the latter.

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