technical paper

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Grief, outrage, solidarity: Examining the Interactions among Global and Local Commenters on Online Media Coverage of the COVID-19 Crisis in India


digital and virtual anthropology



This paper examines the discursive acts taken by participants in the comments sections of news videos covering the Indian COVID-19 crisis in Spring 2021, in the larger context of ongoing globalization. The comments section of press coverage of the situation becomes a interactive space where both Indian citizen and commenters of other nationalities engage in acts of grief and solidarity. International participants in these spaces act to signal an affiliation with Indians living through the COVID-19 crisis, often by invoking their own loss and personal grief caused by COVID-19. However, against the backdrops of racial tension and Indian political dissatisfaction, comments also become a tool to cast blame and express outrage. In expressing their grief, many Indian participants - at home and abroad - decry the government and the state of the Indian media coverage, while international participants can fall back on stereotypical tropes about India to explain the massive spread of COVID-19. In analyzing these actions among international interactants, this paper dissects the familiar dichotomy of global and local identities, and how these identities come to bear in online interactions. By displaying empathetic grief, commenters outside of India overtly signal a global identity, sometimes in such a way that the participant specifically contrasts it with a national identity. Similarly, Indian participants signal an appreciation for the global community in accepting this solidarity. In contrast, participants can withhold support or the acceptance of support to signal a locally focused conception of identity.


Transcript English (automatic)

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