Inside the Wuhan cabin hospital: Contending narratives during the COVID-19 pandemic

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This article examines the making and circulation of vlogs on the Chinese platform Douyin during the Wuhan lockdown. We specifically draw attention to vlogs made in mobile cabin hospitals. Constructed between February and March in 2020, cabin hospitals were part of the state’s isolation and quarantine efforts, and these hospitals created spaces of confinement within a city under lockdown. The vlogs that we refer to are often bursting with energy, optimism, and play, and seem to be expressive of new modalities of care and social relationality. But they are also appropriated by the Chinese state, who used them as examples of ‘positive energy’ (正能量), and to promote the collective commitment to contain the virus. Focusing on the videos, blogs, and narrative storytelling of Li Jing, we show how the state appropriated her work to further its attempt to control the meaning of life and death during the ‘people’s war’ on the coronavirus. These and other state appropriations must also be understood within the context of the state’s involvement in platforms such as Douyin and the ‘platformization’ of everyday life both before and during the Wuhan lockdown.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Litzinger, R; Ni, Y

Published Date

  • November 1, 2021

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 346 - 365

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1741-590X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0920-203X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0920203X211030869

Citation Source

  • Scopus