I am not a virus! From model minority to public enemy, the racialisation of the Chinese community in Italy through food

Journal title MONDI MIGRANTI
Author/s Sebastiano Benasso, Luisa Stagi
Publishing Year 2021 Issue 2021/2
Language Italian Pages 15 P. 119-133 File size 193 KB
DOI 10.3280/MM2021-002007
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Covid-19 has shed light on the Sino-Italian communities, usually perceived as a "minority model", based on their being considered as integrated, hard-working and silent. The media narratives about the relation between the spreading of the virus and the consumption of food framed as "disgusting" have neutralised the color-blindness usually applied to Asian migrants in Italy. The latent racism has been reinforced by a process of distinction focused on the disgust for an "abject" food. The reframing of the Sino-Italians as folk devils through the spread of gastro-panic has yet triggered processes of subjectivation, pushing them to make their voices heard on a public level. By the standpoint of 12 "Asian" restaurant owners in the city of Genoa, we explore the frame in which such dynamics have unfolded.

Il Covid-19 ha reso improvvisamente visibili le comunità sino-italiane abitualmen-te percepite come "minority model", laborioso, silenzioso e integrato. La narrazione mediatica che ha ricondotto le origini della pandemia al consumo di un cibo considerato "disgustoso" ha colorato l’abituale color-blind riservato ai mi-granti di origine asiatica. Il razzismo latente si è nutrito dell’alterizzazione prodotta dal disgusto per un cibo considerato "abietto". La produzione dei cinesi come folk devil esito della costruzione del gastro-panico ha tuttavia innescato anche un pro-cesso di soggettivazione, visibilizzazione e presa di parola. Attraverso il punto di vista di 12 esercenti della ristorazione 'Asiatica' nella città di Genova ricostruiamo il frame nel quale si sono prodotte queste dinamiche.

Keywords: color-blind; Covid-19; minority model; gastro-panic; food distinction; Sino-Italian community.

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Sebastiano Benasso, Luisa Stagi, I am not a virus! From model minority to public enemy, the racialisation of the Chinese community in Italy through food in "MONDI MIGRANTI" 2/2021, pp 119-133, DOI: 10.3280/MM2021-002007