The Practice of ‘Othering' during COVID-19 Pandemic in Malaysia: From the cities to the highlands
Keywords:‘‘othering', COVID-19, xenophobia, Rohingya communities, pandemic, migration, border communities
This paper attempts to throw light on the concept of ‘othering’ previously framed through the prism of identity politics. As COVID-19 continues to ravage our economy and social life, we turn to looking at two contested sites of the highland national borders and the urban cities to understand how the ‘othering' idea manifests itself right when the pandemic began in late December 2019. The first situation is described in social media as Malaysia’s mass rage and xenophobic rants against Rohingya refugees and the second scenario is the closure of international borders between Sarawak and East Kalimantan in the uplands located in the northeast of Central Borneo. By analysing texts in the form of narratives, anecdotes and communication encountered through social media, the paper raised questions whether these were manifestations of specific forms of marginalisation of people based on perceived group differences or simply expressions of fear of COVID-19 disease and anxiety about scarcity of resources as a result of the pandemic.
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Published by Transnational Press London