This essay is an experiment in figuring the pandemic through its reconfigurations of Chineseness. It departs from the Sinophobic cliché that conflates race, geopolitics, and epidemiology: the “China Virus” and its cloud of cognate slurs. It considers the slogan-slur as both an epithet and a conceptual and political challenge to imagine the pandemic as it is lived, still, as a disorientation of Asian and Asian American life, time, and death. The essay pauses at each of the three Lunar New Years of the pandemic, so far, to consider how Chineseness—as a national example, as a mode of racialization, and as a site of racial suspicion—might upset a US-based accounting of the pandemic, which frames it only through its arrival on American shores.

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