Moral Panic and Othering Practices during Nepal’s COVID19 Pandemic
Conference: 10th Annual Kathmandu Conference on Nepal & the Himalaya
Dates: 28-30 July 2021Abstract:
The pandemic has highlighted several cases of so-called ‘fake news’ across the globe and its repercussions for marginalised groups such as migrants. Mainstream mass media in Nepal have frequently reported on probable risk of COVID-19 from the arrival of thousands of returning migrant workers from India. Nepali media, including social media such as Facebook and YouTube most likely contributed to a moral panic and promoted negative public perceptions against migrant and other vulnerable communities as possible virus carriers and spreaders. Therefore, we aimed to explore: a) the contents of: (i) YouTube on mis/disinformation relating to vulnerable and marginalised groups for COVID-19 crisis in Nepal; and (ii) mainstream media (three widely circulated newspapers and the top three online news portals) regarding activities/incidents leading to repercussions on these groups; b) how migrants perceive/understand these rumours, their coping strategies, and how they build resilience against mis/disinformation during COVID-19 crisis; c) the impact of COVID-19 rumours (e.g. on health, social, psychological, livelihood) and societal response (e.g. border closures, isolation).