COVID-19 point blank: Language, migration, and the pandemic as a political issue

Mariangela Veikou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The current pandemic is sustained in dichotomies and distancing, as most of us awkwardly have recently experienced. Moreover, COVID-19 has definitely put the spotlight on social inequalities that are underpinning our society and it has highlighted the escalation of the state surveillance capability and new forms of oppression too. The discrimination ingrained in our societies, built on a historically defined regime of racialized oppression and structural disadvantage of racialized citizens and migrants, was produced well before the coronavirus, but it is now casting a different shade, reinforcing forms of exclusions, highlighting the pandemic as a political issue. Hence, this paper addresses a range of political perspectives of the lived experiences in and through social space with examples of narratives in language which capture the everyday political experiences of the pandemic within Europe. The kind of language used and its profound effect on the growing discourse regarding COVID-19 is the main focus in this paper. I here explore the intertwining of language and politics during the pandemic and bring out the countervailing narratives that seem to be in constant tension. I then ask where this takes us, not only in terms of scholarship and expansion of knowledge, but also with a pragmatic edge to it, trying to figure out how is it possible for us to achieve some sort of cognitive shift in our approach in order to learn from this challenge and from this new perspective. Methodologically, as well as looking at existing data, references to attitudes in general are made. A theoretical discussion on migration and language, and the kind of intersection between them, is offered, from the point of view of critical theory, before pointing to the metaphors used, the implications they allow, and how all these fit together, in the form of a concluding discussion. Metaphor or not, the power of language in its ramifications of articulations about the pandemic and the idea of distance underlines COVID-19 as a deeply political issue.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2022


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