For Chinese-speaking communities in the UK and elsewhere, COVID-19 has witnessed a steep rise in racism and xenophobia.

Sinophone creative responses event image
Image caption and source
Courtesy of Dr Denise Kwan

Alongside efforts to combat COVID-19 related racism and support those who have experienced discrimination, Chinese-speaking communities have been producing and circulating Chinese-language materials about the virus through various creative means and media, in an attempt to foster new forms of understanding about their respective communities to broader audiences.

Building on the overwhelming public response to our previous roundtable on racialised discourses and COVID-19, this workshop is part of a series of events exploring the ways in which different Chinese communities have been responding to COVID-19 and the ensuing wave of racism and xenophobia.

Through collaboration with academics, activists, and local communities, we aim to map out the creative responses emanating from a diverse range of Chinese cultures and build new alliances and networks to fuel resistance, action, and change. What strategies, resources and ideas can be shared for intervening in prevailing COVID-19-fuelled racisms to build towards a more equitable future?

In this event, we have invited Dr Diana Yeh, Flair Donglai Shi, Sam Phan and Dr Shzr Ee Tan back from the March roundtable to share their reflections on how the fear and ignorance around COVID-19 have continued to fan pre-existing racisms and expose social faultlines, and the kinds of responses that have sought to resist and challenge such practices.

This second half is a workshop led by Dr Denise Kwan in which participants move into breakout groups to explore the following thematics:

  1. Anger/Joy as Resistance As activists, academics and artists, how can we productively direct energy from anger and joy in the resistance against racism related to COVID-19? Inevitably, the fight against racism is accompanied by an all -encompassing fury that can be overwhelming. How do we deal with anger driven by fear of disease and of the Other? Drawing from Audre Lorde’s ideas on anger, how can we harness the power of anger and joy in equal measure to mobilise and empower across multiple contexts?
  2. Collective Care Racism is a structure of inequalities so pervasive in multiple institutional and everyday context. COVID-19 has exposed and challenged the ideals of cultural diversity and tolerance in multicultural societies, contributing to hurt and trauma. This workshop will consider the role of collective care in organising and mobilising feminist implications of the radical notion of care as political action. How might activism be a form of radical self-care, and vice-versa?
  3. Political-Hearts Solidarity across ethnic and linguistic lines can be formed through embodied actions in our everyday and intergenerational connections. By engaging critically with xenophobia and racism relating to COVID-19, we explore the question: how can individuals and communities across demographics and geographies intervene and challenge unequal structures?

Note: This is an online event. You will be sent a link to Zoom before the event starts.


The event is intended as a safe space for challenging conversations. Organisers will automatically remove the participation of individuals or groups who partake in abusive or hate speech/ gestures. In line with data protection guidelines, we also ask that participants DO NOT record the event.

Workshop leader

Denise Kwan is a socially engaged artist, poetry maker and art lecturer. Her PhD research from the University of Westminster explored the use of socially engaged art and material culture with two generations of British Chinese women. In the project, she collaborated with two generations and created an ‘art school’ at Haringey Chinese Community Centre. The objects and artworks were curated into a digital platform on In 2018, she co-organised the first academic workshop exploring the experiences of British Chinese women at Kings College. She has presented her research at Wuyi University and at the Association of Critical Heritage Studies Conference. Her writing has been featured on arts platform including ArtReview, this is tomorrow and British Journal of Chinese Studies.