They will shoot you to a pulp! The racialisation of migrant workers in the emotive cyberspace of PTT

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This paper analyses how social media users ‘reimagined’ the death of an undocumented Vietnamese migrant worker in 2017 in Taiwan and revealed their views on ethnic hierarchy and the judicial system as a public institution. Conceptualising posting on PTT, a Chinese-language BBS platform likened to Reddit, as a racialising process, this paper finds that their reimagination was characterised by criminalisation, dehumanisation and distrust of the judicial system. Laden with strong emotions, some users displayed their racial othering of migrant workers through militant masculinity, whereas others called for inter-subjectivity and respect for life and rights. Some users equated being pro-police with being pro-violence, in contrast to others’ demand to regulate the police’s use of firearms. The totality of these views suggests that PTT is a volatile socio-political space facilitating these antagonistic views. The racialising discourse echoes the exclusionary guest worker system adopted in Taiwan that regards migrant workers as the disposable and inferior other.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Taiwan Studies
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 7 Jul 2023


  • PTT
  • social media
  • migrant workers
  • racialisation
  • politics of truth
  • attention economy

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