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Catherine Boyle & Renata Brandao

Worldmaking in the Time of Covid-19

This session will be dedicated to the project ‘Worldmaking in the Time of Covid-19’, which has united a multilingual group of students and researchers to explore how the pandemic has been narrated across the globe. The premise of the research is simple. It is that we narrate everything. We construct the world around us by telling its stories, shaping the language we use to describe what is happening to us; language that is used and adapted in the media in response to moments of crisis. This language in turn shapes how we see the world. This is what we call worldmaking. Language barriers prohibit the real understanding of experience in diverse societies and lead to misunderstanding, xenophobia and violence, and this is heightened at times of global crisis. In the project, our multidisciplinary team was tasked with digitally mining sources from Arabic, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Russian, Portuguese and Spanish. The linguists are engaged in translating the most salient terms and are using digital tools to compare and analyse the ways in which the pandemic has been narrated.

By sharing the findings of the project, including the methods for digitally gathering the information, this presentation, which will include the multilingual voices of the researchers, will shed light on questions of the global responses to the pandemic. The presentation is founded in the certainty that we need a clear understanding of these multilingual and multicultural articulations at the present moment in an already volatile geopolitical situation. (249 words)

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