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Bittersweet Stories of Our English Names

English & Chinese

These names with a more “foreign flair” are greatly influenced by English-speaking countries; they are from TV shows, celebrities, friends from other countries, but above all the dominance and privilege of the English language itself. Increased mobility and cultural communication between China and the West has posed important questions for people to ponder: What does “Chineseness” mean? What do tolerance and openness embody? And most importantly, how can one showcase their incredibly diverse and interesting “self” when various cultural forces intersect with each other? English names thus become a simple yet nuanced gateway to our more complex identities.




After A Chat with the Masseuse, I Wrote Down This Poem

English & Chinese

In this issue, we feature a poem, “Jenny.” Jenny’s experiences as a masseuse are nowhere near a melancholic love story like in the movie Comrades: Almost A Love Story. While some customers actively seek conversation with Jenny because they enjoy her humor; other times, Jenny also encounters incidents of indifference, absurdity, and belittlement in her work.” We also invited four readers to share their feelings and experiences after reading the poem. 




Glitter, Parade, Music, and Dance: Why is Pride Month a Month of Jubilant Celebration?

English & Chinese

Why are Pride events often associated with such celebratory dancing, singing, and jubilant partying? In this article, the authors provided us with an overview of the history behind the Pride Month. The analysis presents what the jubilant nature of the Pride celebration connotes: a way of showing rebellion, a self-expression of LGBTQ+ identity as being a pride, a de-construction of social norms. In the context of current #BlackLivesMatter movement, this overview of the Pride Month sheds light on the roles Black activists played in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and how celebrating the Pride Month is related to the liberation of not only LGBTQ+ communities, but all the marginalized and the suppressed as well. 






暴力执法不行,暴力抗议呢?| 哪吒,鲍德温,与美国种族政治


上周,美国明尼苏达州黑人男子George Floyd因遭受白人警察暴力执法而死亡的事件引发了全美各城市人民的抗议游行。短短一周内,反对种族不公和警察暴力执法的和平抗议,在部分地区发酵成了冲击社会秩序的“暴乱”,模糊了焦点的同时,给人们本就因疫情而沉重的心情加上了另一层恐慌。

本篇文章由Joyce Tan写于2019年9月,首发于“单读”。文章将当时热映的动画电影《哪吒之魔童降世》与美国种族现实进行对照,从美国作家、黑人民权运动者詹姆斯·鲍德温的视角提到美国主流社会中建构的种族符号,也谈到《黑豹》电影中体现的身份政治以及美国社会定义暴力时的双重标准。希望本期的旧文新刊能给读者认识美国的种族政治和近期的抗议示威带来一些新的视角。

My Life with Dyslexia So Far

English & Chinese

Dyslexia is a common learning disability that causes people to have difficulty interpreting words when reading. This issue is written from the point of view of an individual with dyslexia whom we have interviewed. In this article he shares his story about how dyslexia has affected him. Some facts about dyslexia and further problems caused by dyslexia are listed after this first-person narrative. (The names in this issue have been changed to protect the identity of the interviewee.)






本期推文简要梳理了上世纪非裔美国人(以下正文均按照原文“Black Americans”的措辞译为“美国黑人”)与中国交往史中的若干重要人物和事件。尽管这段历史不为大众所熟知,却意义重大。从过去到现在,同为所谓“有色人种”的非裔美国人与中国华人,有着怎样的联系和互动?美国黑人解放运动与中国人民反帝国主义的抗争怎样产生共振、又怎样彼此汲取能量?新中国的领导人与美国黑人领袖有过何种接触、又如何影响了美国反种族歧视的斗争?本文对上述问题给出了部分解答。

A Starting Point to Understand the Black Lives Matter Protests and Systemic Racism (II)

English & Chinese

While the protest against police brutality and racial discrimination has been going on for more than a month, the spirit of “Black Lives Matter” is still reverberating in people’s hearts. As in the previous reading list we recommended, this list again focuses on racial issues, and we have chosen for you: four feature films, three documentaries, three TV series, five songs, and four podcasts. Through these stories, images, music, and discussions, we believe that it is easier for you to enter this serious, profound and complex issue and deepen your understanding of racial justice.

A Starting Point to Understand the Black Lives Matter Protests and Systemic Racism (I)

English & Chinese

How should we recognize systematic racism and violence against Black people? Why is white supremacy and racism so inveterately constructed in America? What are the historical and practical links between Asian and African groups in the fight against racism? How can we, from the Chinese-speaking world, engage and support other communities of color? If you care about any of the above, please explore this list of resources recommended by unCoVer. We hope it will help you understand more about racism, the civil rights movement of African Americans, and the past and present experiences of Asians as “model minorities.”

Art in Crisis: From AIDS to 9/11 to COVID-19

English & Chinese

Art-making as a political action can be healing and powerful, albeit its paradox and limitations. From AIDS to 9/11 to the current pandemic, art allows people to negotiate the past and present crises. It creates ripples in us that extend to places oceans away, and to another suffering human being. 

What are the differences and similarities of art-making in these crises? How is art able to relate to people? What are the moral responsibilities in engaging with aesthetics against the backdrop of great human suffering? In early April, we invited a literature student and an artist to talk to us about these questions. 

Ahmedabad: Cooking under Lockdown

English & Chinese

“When we can’t dwell in our cities, it’s our stories that should wander.” As a series of COVID-19 related measures are transforming cities and urban life, an international group of young urbanists initiated Spread Stories, Not The Virus, a platform for citizens to share their experiences and reflections in their locked-down cities.

On May 1st, they published a post written by Pooja Mehta from Ahmedabad, India, an architect who loves to cook. While the lockdown in India has been frustrating, for Pooja it’s nevertheless the best time to be with family and enjoy everyone’s favourite dishes. 

Xenophobia in the Time of Culture, Race and Stigma

English and Chinese

On April 26,  the Office of Diversity Initiatives at New York University Shanghai (NYU Shanghai) held a panel discussion, “Xenophobia in the Time of Coronavirus: Culture, Race & Stigma.”

The panelists discussed the social, political and historical contexts in which China’s citizens, members of its diaspora and people of Asian descent have been stigmatized as carriers of contagion in the time of COVID-19. Looking at both history and the current phenomenon, the panelists examined narratives that link the imagining of an infectious disease with the imagining of “the other.” In addition, the panelists commented on the recent reports of xenophobic incidents targeting African nationals in China, highlighting the historical and psychological roots of racial prejudice.



This article was originally published on the website and is republished here with the Atlantic’s permission. To read the original article, “The Coronavirus is a disaster for feminism: Pandemics affect men and women differently,” click here.

The Child in the Basement


Beginning with the short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” the following article reflects on the distance between awareness and action. While sharing her thoughts, the author hopes also to move the readers to act in support of the groups that have been providing service and relief on the front line.  

We Must Love One Another or Die


Special issue in remembrance of those who lost their lives during the COVID-19 outbreak.



“奥斯维辛之后,写诗是野蛮的”——德国哲学家、社会学家西奥多·阿多诺(Theodor W. Adorno)在1949年的《文化批判与社会》一文中如是写到。半个多世纪以前的那场人类浩劫,让他诘问文艺创作的可能性和有效性。

《Soap Oracle》中,诗人以洗手这一不断机械性重复的动作为起点,表达了她对疫情的理解。发表这首诗歌并征集翻译投稿以来,我们陆续收到了一些优质有趣的翻译和再创作。本期推送将呈现其中三篇翻译作品、一篇再创作作品。同时,我们也邀请到了这首诗的原作者和译者,与身在三个国家、四个不同城市的她们进行了连线。除了分享对这首诗的理解以及翻译心得,我们也探讨了疫情中的文学、语言和政治。译者中现居爱尔兰和葡萄牙的两位,还向我们介绍了两国政府和民众的防疫措施,以及她们各自面对疫情的心路历程和生活点滴。

The Praised, The Displayed, The Neglected


In this epidemic, women make up two-thirds of the dispatched medical force nation-wide to assist with the treatment and containment in Hubei. Among the medical staff working at the front line, more than half of the doctors and over 90% of the nurses are women. In various other fields such as scientific research, management, sanitation, construction, community service, and social work, women have also been playing an active and indispensable role. Despite their immense contribution to the society, the outbreak has accentuated the already ubiquitous sexism from biased media coverage to the neglect of female medical staffs’ needs. Starting with this critical lens, the panelists discussed the intersectionality of gender in culture, media representation, and civil society. They also shared projects they’ve initiated during the outbreak and addressed other social issues related to gender.

Soap Oracle


Our eighth issue features a short poem, “Soap Oracle,” written by Liang Xiao in early February, 2020. In the time of coronavirus, the magnitude of fear, chaos, and anxiety, among other things inherent to human vulnerability, is sometimes translated into the triviality of mundane behaviors, such as hand washing. Using hand washing as a starting point, Liang writes an intimate piece of poetry to present her personal take on the outbreak. To Liang, the poem is experimental — perhaps even a little coarse, but the act of writing it has in fact been cathartic and liberating. 

Gay Couple on the Front Lines: An ER Nurse and His Boyfriend


During the COVID-19 outbreak, dominant media coverage often features scenes of medical workers parting with their families. However, there is little representation of families outside of the “normative” conception. In this issue, we present you with the story of a gay couple, Xiaoyang (30) and Lin Feng (38), both fighting at the front line of the COVID-19 epidemic. They have been together for six and a half years and lived together for four. As an emergency room nurse, Xiaoyang volunteered to join a medical support team to aid a hospital in Wuhan. In their home community in Beijing, Lin Feng serves as a policeman who patrols crowded public spaces to ensure safety.

Who Touched My Hair?


In this article, journalist and commentator Hou Qijiang analyzes how the mainstream media in China portray female medical workers in the current epidemic. In particular, she asks the following questions: How have women’s bodies been staged and misappropriated in the media coverage? How are they being used as a tool to direct public opinion?

On the one hand, female medical workers’ physical traits and their “sacrifice” in the epidemic are highlighted. On the other hand, female workers are overlooked in terms of their needs, their professional values, and even their existence among the workforce. Analyzing the origin of gender discrimination in the media, Hou points out the inequality caused by the intersection between social status and gender, and the grand nationalist narrative that blurs the images of ordinary female workers.

She Bought 100 Masks for the Sanitation Workers


This issue comes from a conversation between two young feminists in China, Xiao Meili (肖美丽) & Guo Jing (郭晶). Both are known for their advocacy and activism against sexual discrimination, sexual harassment and domestic violence. One of Xiao’s most notable campaigns is her 2,000 km (1,240 mile) walk from Beijing to Guangzhou in 2014 to raise awareness of sexual abuse. That was also the year when Guo won the landmark sex-based discrimination case in which she sued a cooking school in Zhejiang province for rejecting her job application on the basis of gender. Currently Guo runs a hotline for women facing workplace discrimination. 

Higher Education Insiders: Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones

English & Chinese

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed major challenges to higher education institutions all over the world. Panic and concerns from students and parents, together with the changing information and policies around an evolving outbreak, has made universities pivot in multiple directions in response.

How are universities in China and the U.S. responding to the unprecedented challenges? In dealing with the crisis, how are student affairs professionals “crossing the river by feeling the stones”? In early April, we spoke with three higher ed insiders, and this issue presents the highlights from our conversations. 





We Help HIV-Infected People Obtain Antiretroviral Drugs


The lockdown of Wuhan was not just inconvenient: for the HIV-infected people in Wuhan, it was a threat to their health. Although the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a policy after the lockdown to help these patients file prescriptions away from home, social workers and volunteers need to make extra effort to ensure individuals can obtain their medication. 

I Used to Say: “Sacrifice Is Unavoidable”


Luo Xin (罗新) is a professor at Peking University whose work mainly focuses on how dynasties founded by ethnic minorities have shaped Chinese history. In February, Surplus Value, a cultural podcast invited Luo for a conversation. They spoke about what was happening then in Hubei, as well as plagues in history, militarized language, nationalism and internationalism.

Playlist | 偷闲歌单,任性一晚

English & Chinese

Let’s unwind, recharge and carry on.

The Politics of Virus-Naming, Mask-Wearing, and Remembering


“Fear and discrimination will not take us far.” These words are shown on the homepage of “Sinophobia Tracker,” a website that archives and documents the information on sinophobia, its spill-over effects, as well as the counter efforts worldwide during the COVID-19 outbreak.

To Wang Jing and Li Li who created the “Sinophobia Tracker” project and built the website, the death of Doctor Li was a “wakeup” call, prompting them to do something to “record, remember and carry on.” 

Bats, Virus, and Racism


In the final scene of the 2011 movie “Contagion,” a bat disturbed by a logging company flies out of the forest and onto a pig farm, carrying a piece of banana. The bat drops the fruit, and a pig eats it. This is revealed to be “day one” of the fictional MEV-1 outbreak. Through the pig, the virus eventually finds its way into an American character played by Gwyneth Paltrow, who soon dies as “patient zero” of a horrifying global pandemic.

To those watching the movie in 2020, the scene bears much resemblance to the reality of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Yet, do we know for sure if bats are indeed the “culprit” of the current pandemic? Have scientists figured out the novel virus’s origin and transmission routine yet?  In the following article, Jing Wang and Li Li offer a brief timeline of the bat soup myth as well as a literature review of some recent peer-reviewed articles that discuss the origin of COVID-19.

Not Trying to Catch Feelings or Coronavirus


In this blog post (published on Amy’s personal blog on Feb 23rd), Amy describes her adventures with the popular dating app Tinder during this time. She has been using Tinder as a “dataset” to keep track of expats in Shanghai during the coronavirus outbreak — how many have fled China, who have stayed, and what they are looking for. But given the current lack of options for socializing, she is now also using the app to go on dates. Her attempts at connecting with the dwindling number of online singles in Shanghai are sometimes hilarious, sometimes frustrating, and rarely romantic.

Is Sinophobia Only Skin Deep? An NYU Shanghai Senior’s Experience with COVID-19


The COVID-19 outbreak has deeply affected China, the Asian diaspora, and the globe to varying degrees. Perhaps more dangerous than the virus itself are the accompanying xenophobia and stigmatization, which seem doubly infectious and deadly. 

Maya Wang, a senior at New York University Shanghai (NYU Shanghai), recently posted on Instagram an avant-garde surgical mask makeup in an effort to raise hopes and speak out against sinophobia.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close: From Wuhan, Beijing, & Auckland


The first story is told by He Laoshi from Wuhan. She has spent almost every day at home in Wuhan since the city lockdown. The one exception was when she went out to meet with her boyfriend’s parents.

The second story is told by Xiao Tu. In January, she was going to travel back home but canceled her train ticket last minute. Video chatting with parents became Xiao Tu’s new daily routine. 

The third story comes from Li Yang who lives in New Zealand but has family members in China. Having been following the news from another hemisphere, she reflects on how emotionally impactful the novel coronavirus outbreak has been to her, and in particular, how the death of Doctor Li Wenliang has compelled her to fundamentally question some of her prior beliefs.

A Father’s Diary in the Wake of Huanggang’s Lockdown


Yuanzi, a father, husband, and resident of Huanggang city in Hubei Province, kept a journal of his experience during the epidemic. Here are two of his entries.

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