Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2543-3164
  • E-ISSN: 2543-3156
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Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, was accused of spreading rumors when he sent a WeChat message containing the diagnostic report of a suspicious pneumonia case to a group of friends. When he later died from COVID-19, his Weibo page quickly become known as “China’s Wailing Wall,” where hundreds of thousands of netizen shared replies to his final post in a mega-thread that continues into the present. Drawing upon a selection of posts from an archive of messages posted to Li’s Weibo in the year following his death, this article examines how participants used chronotopes (Bhaktin 1981) to situate Li vis-à-vis various culturally salient “figures of personhood” (Agha 2005Park 2021), including “moral hero,” “kin figure,” and/or “deity.” Our analysis further suggests how such positioning, as a response to grief and uncertainty, “moved” authors into a position of distance from hegemonic national chronotopes situating people in a symbiotic relationship of mutual care with the Chinese state. Our analysis thus offers insight into the ways in which collective crises have the capacity to (but do not necessarily) motivate a complex discursive and relational process through which interlocutors enact (Pritzker and Perrino 2020) as they grapple with shifts in their felt experience of nationhood and/or “culture.”


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): China; chronotopes; COVID-19; Li Wenliang; scalar intimacy
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