Articles

“SWINE FLU AND THE PANIC PANDEMIC: NEO-COLONIAL REPRESENTATION OF MEXICO IN THE CANADIAN PRESS”

Gabriela Capurro

 

Abstract

 

The A H1N1 influenza or “swine flu” virus appeared in Veracruz, Mexico, in April 2009 and quickly spread to other countries becoming a global pandemic. In the Canadian press the illness soon became known as the “Mexican flu” and the coverage focused on the stigmatization of Mexicans as carriers of the flu. Through the reproduction of dominant ideologies the media reinforce common-sense stock of knowledge, which can perpetuate negative perceptions between nations. The literature on the Mexico-Canada relationship is scarce and does not address mutual representation in the media or how they could affect mutual perceptions. This paper addresses this by advancing an explanation of the role of journalism in the perception of Mexico in Canada, and examines how asymmetric international relations are expressed through neo-colonial discourses in the press. Through critical discourse analysis of newspaper coverage of the H1N1 flu outbreak, this paper examines how the power imbalances that characterises the bilateral relationship between Mexico and Canada were reflected in the Globe and Mail and the National Post. Results show that these asymmetries were expressed through a neo-colonial discourse that emphasized difference, stereotype, and a perceived sense of superiority over the racialized Other.

Introduction

 

The A H1N1 influenza or “swine flu” virus appeared in Veracruz, Mexico, in April 2009 and quickly spread to other countries becoming a global pandemic. The disease caused the closure of schools, offices, restaurants, bars, theatres and stadiums in Mexico, and the Mexican government advised its population to wear masks and avoid public spaces. Soon after, the international community imposed travel warnings and passengers arriving from Mexico were screened for flu symptoms at airports worldwide. In the media, the illness soon became known as the “Mexican flu” and the coverage of the outbreak focused almost exclusively on Mexico. This paper analyses with a postcolonial approach the representation of Mexicans in the Canadian newspapers the National Post and the Globe and Mail during their coverage of the H1N1 flu outbreak, to assess whether such representations reflect the power asymmetries of the Canada-Mexico relationship and, thus, reinforced a neo-colonial discourse. By focusing on journalism practices, the field of journalism studies allows the analysis of the impact that transnational relations have on media discourses and the effect of those discourses on public perceptions of other nations and on the diplomatic relations.

Critical discourse analysis was performed to determine if a neo-colonial discourse was conveyed by referring to racial and cultural superiority/inferiority, otherness, fear of the Other, and xenophobia. The results of this study show that both newspapers depicted Mexico in racialized ways, mainly through the use of stereotypes. Mexico was referred to as a biological and cultural threat, while Canada was depicted as helpful and rational. This tendency, however, was challenged by other mainstream and alternative media that questioned Canada’s attitudes towards Mexico and examined the role of NAFTA in the health crisis.

This paper begins with an overview of the literature on postcolonialism, and media discourses of disease and racialized groups in North America. It then turns attention to the methodology and results. It concludes with a discussion on how power asymmetries were expressed through a neo-colonial discourse that emphasizes difference, stereotype, and a perceived sense of superiority over the racialized Other.

Postcolonialism in the Americas

 

The problematic of colonization and decolonization is examined by postcolonial studies, challenging established institutionalized knowledge and situating issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, subalternity, diaspora, immigration and globalization within geopolitics and relations between countries and their particular histories (Shome and Hegde, 2002). Postcolonialism also studies the manifestations of neo-colonial relations between developed countries and underdeveloped ones due to economic and power disparities (Mignolo, 2001). These relations suppose a new form of “colonization,” with no occupation of land but rather industrial and labour exploitation of former colonies and the export of their natural resources to developed countries (Khor, 2001).

Neo-colonialism is mostly based on economic interests and supposes asymmetric power relations between nations, which are expressed in free trade agreements that encourage foreign investment, the exploitation of resources and cheap labour, and the control of immigration. These free trade agreements facilitate the economic expansion of powerful nations to underdeveloped countries (Castells, 2004; Grinspun, 1993; Bhattacharyya et al., 2002). This is the case of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which liberalizes trade flows between Canada, Mexico and the United States. NAFTA is characterized by economic imbalances that generate power asymmetries, giving the larger economies –the United States and Canada– greater political and economic influence (Cooper, 2008).  Such power asymmetries have affected the relationship between Canada and Mexico (Cooper, 2008), which has not developed to its full potential because they are both more concerned with strengthening their particular relationships with the United States (Abizaid, 2004, Goldfarb, 2005).  Despite the economically fruitful partnership, the relationship between Mexico and Canada continues to be characterized by a lack of common goals (Randal, 1995; Cooper, 2008). Thus, Canada and Mexico remain “distant neighbours” (Wood, 2003) and their relationship has not fully realized its potential (Abizaid, 2004).

Postcolonialism is relevant for determining the ways in which imperialism is involved in the construction of contemporary relations of power, hierarchy, and domination (Chowdhry and Nair, 2002).  It provides a framework for studying neo-colonial international relations, taking into account the gaze of the subaltern, while challenging Western dominant discourses, forms of representation, stereotypes and notions of center and periphery (Slater, 2004; Chowdhry, 2002).  In the press, neo-colonial representations suppose the depiction of other groups and nations as less civilized, emphasizing difference and constructing them as the “Other” (Dury, 2007).

 

 

Media discourses of minorities

 

The mass media are important sources of discourses as they produce and reproduce dominant ideologies, and offer social constructions of reality that reinforce the common-sense stock of knowledge through the selection of stories and the use of frames, filters and stereotypes (Jiwani, 2006; Hall, 1995; Henry and Tator, 2002; Richardson, 2007). Neo-colonial representations of minorities or otherized groups in the media are based on the ambivalent colonial discourse (Hall, 1990 cited in Jiwani, 2006). The Other is defined as “excessively sexual, physically different, inferior in mental and social capacities, threatening, alien, savage-like, ignorant, primitive, and beyond the pale of civilization,” while “exotic, erotic, mystical, innocent, majestic, and a noble relic of a bygone era” (Jiwani, 2006: 33). In that sense racialization is articulated in media discourses with “other systems of oppression” like gender, immigration status, religion and sexual orientation, and this prompts misrepresentation and underrepresentation of minorities (Adeyanju, 2010). The concept of “race” has expanded to incorporate not only imputed biological characteristics, but cultural ones as well (Siapera, 2010). In the media, this new racism is usually not explicit but has to be inferred from words or sentences in the text, for example from the use of euphemisms to make reference to non-Whites  or by offering one-sided coverage that systematically excludes the Other (Adeyanju, 2010).

Coverage of disease in the North American press

 

News media are important sources of health-related information and influence the way in which diseases are perceived, understood, and discussed (Houston et al., 2008; Gasher et al., 2007). Specific diseases, such as cancer or AIDS, are covered by the news media with particular frames or interpretations (Valenzano, 2009) that have an impact on how the public assess the risks related to them (Dudo et al., 2007). In the case of shorter outbreaks of a disease, the media uses “outbreak narratives;” which follow “a formulaic plot that begins with the identification of an emerging infection, includes discussion of the global networks throughout which it travels, and chronicles the epidemiological work that ends with its containment” (Wald, 2008: 1).

During the coverage of SARS the North American news media followed the geographical expansion of the disease and focused on the death toll, the number of infected people and the measures taken to control the disease, like quarantines and isolation (Houston et al. 2005). “Outbreak narratives,” like the one caused by SARS, tend to promote the stigmatization of individuals or groups, behaviours and lifestyles, by associating the disease with determined places (Wald, 2008). For example, Wald (2003) argues that by tracking the routes of SARS from a duck pen in China, the media suggested lack of cleanliness as a motive for the outbreak and depicted the people close to it as living in preindustrial times, which blurs the understanding of certain practices – like living close to poultry and pork farms – as expressions of poverty. Furthermore, looking at the one-way direction of the disease from an underdeveloped place to a developed one stigmatizes impoverished places as it “obscures the sources of poverty and of the ‘uneven development’ that characterizes globalization” and presents the disease as a threat that could “transform a contemporary ‘us’ into a primitive ‘them’” (p. 45). Through this type of coverage, people who live where the outbreak began become a threat.

In a neo-colonial context, when articulated with immigration and race, coverage of contagious diseases tends to generate panic and attempts to minimise the perception of threat by othering those who are sick and linking the disease to identity and origin (Ungar, 1998 cited in Adenyahu and Neverson, 2007). Othering those who are sick involves rendering them primitive and underdeveloped, while ignoring the problem of poverty (Wald, 2008: 8). The articulation of threat and foreignness is constant in the coverage of disease.

By comparing media representations of avian flu and terror, Muntean (2009) found that both were constructed in the United States as threatening deadly alien forces that go beyond national borders and disregard conventional modes of engagement. By articulating disease with the concept of a foreign origin and an imminent threat –like terrorism– the American news media contributed to a xenophobic discourse, thus to a colonial discourse of panic, racism and anxiety about racial minorities. Similarly, examining the SARS outbreak coverage, Leslie (2006) found that the Globe and Mail used a pollution risk logic, which attempted to establish who is us and clean and who is them and dirty. Despite the newspaper’s attempt to prevent readers from using racial profiles to determine SARS risk factors –mainly against Asian people– its use of a risk logic when dealing with the Chinese government contradicted its good intention and constructed China as them, not us. Another case of racism in the Canadian press when covering a disease is that of the “Ebola panic” generated in 2001 after a Congolese woman got ill while visiting Canada. Adeyanju (2010) argues that the media used this case of “non-Ebola” – test results discarded Ebola – as a proxy for expressing the anxiety and insecurity that Canadians feel over the changing racial composition of Canada.

 

 

Method

 

From hogs to humans: the outbreak of H1N1

 

The 2009 A H1N1 influenza originated in pigs and its outbreak is associated to the Mexican pig farming region of Veracruz (Gatherer, 2009). The virus quickly spread to Mexico City and the states of Mexico, Veracruz, San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo, Querétaro, and Oaxaca (central Mexico). All public places in Mexico City, a highly populated metropolis, were shut down as a measure to contain what seemed to be an epidemic. Public health officials asked residents to wear masks and avoid unnecessary contact with other people.  Other countries banned food imports from Mexico and recommended their citizens avoid travelling there, while the international press pointed out that there was no safe place in Mexico. In most airports, travellers arriving in flights from Mexico were screened for flu symptoms, and in some countries, Mexicans were put under quarantine.

But soon the first cases of H1N1 flu appeared in the United States and Canada, causing panic in the international community. Within a month, the flu virus had spread to more than 40 countries. This outbreak was the first of porcine influenza capable of human-to-human transmission and raised serious concerns about the possibility of a global pandemic. During the swine flu pandemic, Mexicans lived with fear and uncertainty as their country was not prepared to deal with the disease, and the national and international media contributed to the panic by depicting an apocalyptic situation. Furthermore, the flu caused enormous economic losses to Mexico and the stigma imposed on Mexicans as carriers of the virus remained for several months.

The coverage of the H1N1 pandemic in the Canadian newspapers the Globe and Mail and the National Post is analyzed in this paper from April 23rd until the end of May, 2009 , when Canada had almost twenty cases of the disease. The sample is composed of 79 articles and the analysis seeks to determine what were the particular frames used in the coverage of the H1N1 flu outbreak, how was Mexico constructed in relation to the flu, and how was otherness established.

 

Critical Discourse Analysis

 

Critical discourse analysis is a multidisciplinary theory and method for studying the use of language by individuals and institutions in relation to power and ideology (Fairclough, 1995; Richardson, 2007). It analyses how dominance and inequality are enacted by language within systems of representation (Henry and Tator, 2002), looks beyond texts to take into account institutional and sociocultural contexts, and considers not only what is said and how it is said, but also what is omitted from the text (Richardson, 2007; Carvalho, 2008; van Dijk, 2000).  Critical discourse analysis in this study is based on Fairclough’s (1995) three-dimensional model: analysis of texts; analysis of discourse practice; and analysis of sociocultural practices. Although discourses convey broad historical meanings (Henry and Tator, 2002), it is possible to analyse them over a short period of time (for example Joye, 2010; Parisi, 1998; and Landau, 2009).

 

 

The “swine flu” pandemic in the Globe and Mail and the National Post

 

The main patterns of coverage of the swine flu pandemic in the Canadian national press were the use of Canadian and American sources and the absence of Mexican ones, which reinforced a Western perspective of Mexico; and the construction of Mexico as different from Canada and the West. By stressing the differences between virulent Mexican cases of the flu –or cases in the Third World– and milder ones in Canada –or in developed countries– the newspapers tried to reduce their readers’ anxiety and contributed to the stigmatization of Mexico, while suggesting that its underdevelopment and different lifestyle made it biologically and culturally weaker (Ungar 1998 cited in Adeyanju et al. 2007).

 

Use of loaded terms

 

Journalists chose particular words and phrases for the depiction of Mexico and Mexicans during their swine flu coverage, frequently referring to the country’s inability to perform laboratory tests; its need for international help, the deadly cases of the illness in that country, and the screenings Mexican seasonal workers travelling to Canada had to undergo. For example: Immigration Canada, which screens Mexicans for the farm-labour program, is working with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other agencies to assess current risks (Globe and Mail April 27, 2009a); “Experts don’t yet know why the virus has only killed people in Mexico” (Globe and Mail April 28, 2009a); “Mexico has no ability to conduct such tests itself” (National Post April 30, 2009).

These depictions, which situate Mexico in a vulnerable position and emphasize a sense of Canadian physical and technological superiority, were consistent throughout the H1N1 flu coverage in both newspapers. The concept of “screening” is particularly problematic as it articulates immigration with health risks. While Canadian tourists returning from Mexico were not forced to undergo a screening, Mexican workers did and they were depicted in the Canadian press as a threat.

Other common words and phrases used for describing Mexico in the Globe and Mail were “risk,” “unsafe,” “shuts down,” and “hopes to contain” the virus. Mexicans were described as “having other infections,” “carrying the virus,” not having “good resistance,” and being “susceptible because of genetic factors.” All these words and phrases convey a racist ideology that depict Mexicans as the “primitive ‘them’” (Wald, 2008: 45) by pointing to an alleged physical inferiority which would make them disease prone and differentiating them from Canadians. For example: “It is also possible that the Mexican population does not have a good resistance to this particular virus” (Globe and Mail April 28, 2009b); “Mexicans may be more susceptible because of genetic factors or medical conditions” (Globe and Mail April 29, 2009).

The National Post referred to Mexico as “filthy,” “underequipped,” provides “sketchy data,” and “is likely to introduce a disease to Canada.”  These words not only suggest underdevelopment and threat, but construct an entire country in demeaning terms, foregrounding only negative aspects instead of also informing about the efforts it made to control the spread of the flu. For example: “Evidence of its virulence comes from the somewhat sketchy data emerging from Mexico” (National Post April 28, 2009); “Mexico is one of the 13 places around the world most likely to introduce infectious disease to Canada” (National Post April 29, 2009).

Finally, both newspapers characterized the flu as “mysterious” and emphasized the fact that it came from Mexico by calling it “Mexican flu” or “Mexican swine flu.” The term “mysterious” applied to a disease relates to anxiety, “an unknown enemy, with no cure, which strikes without warning” (Adeyanju, 2010: 48). And by assigning an origin to the flu, the identity of that place –in this case Mexico– is also associated to it. According to Adeyanju (2010) “the Othering of a disease by the Western press reassures its audiences but also reinforces the notion of Western superiority in hygiene and medicine” (p. 26). Thus, people who “look” Mexican could be subjected to racialization and discrimination.

 

Depictions of Mexico and Canada

 

Depictions of Mexico and Canada were contrasted in the Globe and Mail and the National Post. The most frequent words used when referring to Canada were “helped,” “researched,” “tested,” “is prepared” or “better prepared,” “has mild cases,” is “developing a vaccine.” The Globe and Mail also employed words such as “concerned,” “at risk,” “calm,” following “basic rules of hygiene,” and being “internationally praised.” For example: “The adoption of pandemic plans by thousands of organizations across the country also makes us better prepared” (Globe and Mail April 28, 2009c); “Most patients outside of Mexico have suffered only mild illness” (National Post April 28, 2009); “Canada earned international praise at the same time for the scientific support it has lent to the WHO and Mexico” (National Post April 30, 2009).

In general, the representation of Canada and Canadians was positive, emphasizing the help it provided to Mexico and the preventive measures taken. According to Richardson (2007) the words used in the media to represent ourselves and the other is an ideological one; and the word choice for describing Mexico and Canada is consistent with a neo-colonial discourse which supports a positive self-representations and negative depictions of the Other (Hall, 1995; Slater, 2004; Chowdry et al., 2002). Both newspapers used terms that depicted Mexico as a threat and as incapable of dealing with the health crisis, filthy and culturally inferior; which contrasts with the depiction of Canada as superior, helpful, scientific and organized. A revealing example is an editorial published by the National Post where the town of La Gloria, Mexico, where the first known case of swine flu appeared, is described by the editorialist with sarcasm:

La Gloria is home to a massive pig farming operation whose charming infrastructure includes acres of manure lagoons. (“No one knows for sure how the disease made the jump to little Edgar, but a good guess is that it involved the feces-feasting flies that swarm the very inaptly named Mexican town”) (National Post April 27, 2009).

This demeaning representation of La Gloria contributes to the stigmatization of Mexicans as preindustrial, while ignoring the link between their poverty and the impact of globalization in underdeveloped countries such as Mexico. This pattern is consistent with Wald’s (2008) “outbreak narrative,” which constructs the other as a threat to industrialized societies and their lifestyle.

Racialized groups tend to be represented by the media in passive roles (van Dijk, 2000), and Mexican seasonal farm workers in the Globe and Mail were portrayed as suspects, possible carriers of the flu virus, and passive actors who lacked agency:  as soon as the workers presented symptoms they were taken to the hospital by their Canadian employers; the workers did not decide when to go to the hospital and did not go by themselves either.  Concerns about his labour supply are coupled with vigilance toward the dozen Mexican labourers who already arrived on his farm. “Every time a worker coughs I don’t take any chances – I bring him to a clinic,” Mr. Notaro said yesterday (Globe and Mail April 27, 2009a).

Both newspapers also mentioned doubts about the data supplied by Mexico on the cases of swine flu and the death toll, either accusing Mexico of downplaying the impact of the illness or exaggerating it, sometimes both on the same day: “The number of Mexicans who are suspected to have died of the swine flu is much higher than the confirmed toll” (Globe and Mail April 30, 2009b); “The close to 1,900 cases and 150 or more deaths linked by Mexico have inspired much fear” (National Post April 30, 2009).

Doubts about the information on Mexican cases of swine flu generated speculation about possible factors that contributed to the epidemic. A front page story in the Globe and Mail quotes a Canadian health expert saying that “maybe there’s more than one thing wrong in Mexico,” and that “Mexico City’s air quality may be a ‘key question’ in explaining why the virus is more severe there” (Globe and Mail April 27, 2009b). This article contains some presuppositions – or taken-for-granted, implicit claims (Richardson, 2007) – based on the readers’ previous conceptions and experiences of Mexico. The source speculates that there may be “more than one thing wrong in Mexico” without any details being given on what he means. This claim appeals to the common-sense knowledge of Canadians about developing countries as plagued by all sorts of problems.

 

Sources

 

Regarding the use of sources, Richardson (2007) argues that the way in which they are named in the news implies a choice made by journalists, and the social categories they choose to foreground when referring to the actors of the story have a significant impact on how they are viewed by the public (p. 49). The Globe and Mail used Mexican sources in 11 stories (24%) and the National Post did it in 11 stories (33%). Both newspapers clearly identified Canadian officials, most American sources and those from the World Health Organization. However, Mexican sources tended to be named in general terms, such as “Mexican authorities.” An example of the underrepresentation of Mexican sources is a story about the federal seasonal farm workers’ program and its possible interruption due to the flu (Globe and Mail April 27, 2009a), where Canadian farmers were not only identified but also directly quoted. However, no Mexican workers were quoted or even mentioned despite the fact that many had already arrived to Canada.

The choice of the journalists to include certain sources and leave others out impacts the way the story is constructed by giving only some opinions and perspectives while neglecting others. Speaking in the news is power in itself according to Richardson (2007: 87), thus, it is important to consider who are given a voice and who are not. The Globe and Mail preferred Canadian officials and experts, American officials, and spokespersons for international organizations. Some of the sources used and quoted by the Globe and Mail were the Deputy Minister of the Public Health Agency of Canada, Canada’s chief Public Health officer, the Director of infectious diseases at the Ontario Agency for Health, Protection and Promotion, an infectious-disease expert at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, and a spokesperson for the U.S. Center of Disease control. Mexican sources were few and usually indirectly quoted and identified in general terms.

The lack of Mexican sources is problematic, especially when many stories are about the epidemic in Mexico and the measures taken by this country. When referring to the spread of the disease in Mexico and the possible factors that prompted it, the Globe and Mail preferred to consult Canadian sources, even provincial sources like Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer and an epidemiologist with the British Columbia Centre for Disease control, than talking to Mexican officials and experts, or even to health professionals of the Mexican community in Canada.

Mexican authorities in the Globe and Mail usually are not directly quoted. According to Richardson (2007) quoting sources indirectly could lead to potential distortion and misrepresentation; and thus, sources who are directly quoted have a greater influence than those who are indirectly quoted, and who the journalists chooses to quote can reveal bias. For example, when referring to the travel advisory issued by Canada advising not to make unnecessary trips to Mexico, the Globe and Mail quoted indirectly a Canadian federal official against a travel ban and quoted directly a provincial official in favour of a ban against Mexico (Globe and Mail April 25, 2009). This suggests bias in favour of a travel ban that would inevitably damage Mexico’s economy.

A problematic direct quote is that of a Dr. André Corriveau, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, stating that “there really is no part of Mexico where you can say is free of disease” (Globe and Mail April 29, 2009b). This quote not only misinforms –flu cases were only found in central Mexico– but also projects an image of Mexico as unsafe, which contributes to xenophobia. However, the journalist did not include another source that could counterbalance this opinion.

In the National Post’s coverage the preferred sources were Canadian researchers and experts, like the president of the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Disease Canada; a McGill University infectious-disease specialist; an expert University of British Columbia; and an infectious disease specialist at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital. Canadian and American officials were also consulted, although less frequently than in the Globe and Mail. Mexican sources were also used but in this case they were residents of Mexico City telling their personal experiences (National Post April 27, 2009). The lack of Mexican researchers and experts in the National Post’s coverage shows that these sources probably were not trusted or considered worthy enough to be consulted. By discriminating Mexican experts as sources, the National Post reinforced the notion of Canada as scientific and rational and Mexico as unable to handle crisis.

 

Discussion and conclusion

 

The coverage of the H1N1 flu outbreak in the Globe and Mail and the National Post reveal repeated references to three key aspects of a neo-colonial discourse: (1) racial and cultural superiority/inferiority; (2) otherness; and (3) xenophobia. This was achieved  by under-representing Mexico and constructing it as a threat to Canadian security, incapable of dealing with the crisis, and stigmatizing it as carrier of the virus; while depicting Canada in positive terms — rational, in charge of the situation, and dealing with the problem.

The subordination of Mexico in the Globe and Mail and the National Post was also achieved by constantly relating Canada to the United States, emphasizing their similarities, while pointing out Mexico’s differences. This was reinforced by emphasizing the similarity between mild cases of swine flu in Canada and the United States, while cases in Mexico were lethal; or by stressing the superior technology available in Canada and the United States.

At first, the newspapers centered their coverage of the A H1N1 flu on the situation in Mexico and how it was developing. They constantly emphasized that Mexicans were “different” culturally, biologically and environmentally than Canadians in order to reduce the perception of risk in their readers. However, as the first cases of swine flu appeared in Canada, the coverage began reflecting the anxiety of Canadians over the growing presence of non-White immigrants (Adenyanju, 2010) and constructed Mexicans as an imminent threat to Canadian society, by assigning a clear origin to the virus and relating it to temporary immigrants from Mexico, which contributed to a xenophobic discourse (Muntean 2009). The fact that swine flu was considered a Mexican illness instead of a North American one –despite cases in the U.S. –, and that neither newspaper mentioned the role of NAFTA in the pork industry –and on the extreme poverty in which some people in Mexico live in –, is also a strategy for distancing Canada form the source of the illness (Wald, 2008).

The use of Mexican sources in the coverage of the H1N1 flu in the Canadian newspapers was very limited (between 22% and 33% of the stories used at least one Mexican source). Most of the Mexican sources used in the sample were officials, while no alternative sources were consulted by the Canadian journalists. This is consistent with the tendency of North American news media to cover developing regions based on official versions which coincide with Western or Eurocentric views.

The analyzed coverage of the A H1N1 flu in the Globe and Mail and the National Post shows how asymmetric power relations between Canada and Mexico are reflected in the news media though the use of a neo-colonial discourse that emphasizes difference, stereotype, and a perceived sense of superiority over the racialized Other. By reinforcing existing stereotypes against developing nations, and particularly against Mexico, the Canadian press is contributing to a Eurocentric ideology that has a negative impact on the public perception of Mexicans in Canada, and which could also affect the bilateral relation.

 

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Newspaper Articles:

Globe and Mail

April 25, 2009. “Pandemic in the making; Canada raises health alarm as Mexico shuts down schools in effort to halt swine flu that has killed 20 people and possibly sickened hundreds more.

April 27, 2009a. “Flu outbreak leaves Mexican workers in limbo; Officials will meet today to consider whether it’s safe for thousands of farmhands to travel to Canada.”

April 27, 2009b. “Flu fear spreads as six cases confirmed in Canada; Canadian sufferers showing milder symptoms, but health official says virus could mutate, and warns Ottawa to brace for severe cases.”

April 28, 2009a. “How to prepare for a Pandemic.”

April 28, 2009b. “This really has nothing to do with pigs anymore; This is a human flu that has mutated from the host species. You can’t get it from eating pork. Influenza viruses as not food-borne.”

April 28, 2009c. “Lessons from the last outbreak.”

April 29, 2009. “Pandemic puzzle: what to expect next.”

May 1, 2009. “Life under lockdown: no work, no school, no social visits, no end in sight.”

 

National Post

April 27, 2009. “Swine flu spreads to Canada, U.S.; WHO declares health emergency; 103 dead in Mexico; possible infections in Europe, Israel.”

April 28, 2009. “Not the killer pandemic strain; Death toll at 149, but mild cases in U.S., Canada.”

April 29, 2009. “Scientists seek clues to flu in Mexico; Mild Canadian cases leave doctors puzzled.”

April 30, 2009. “Doubt cast on Mexican flu toll; WHO raises alert; Virus not to blame in all cases: analysis.”

 

 

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