A New Book of 6,000 Diaries Unveils Compelling COVID-19 Lockdown Stories in Wuhan

May 21, 2022

Watch the event highlights with English subtitles here.

Two years ago, Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, was in a state of lockdown to prevent the vicious spread of the unknown COVID-19 virus. Today, to draw lessons from the unprecedented experience and read into the real stories of lives under lockdown, it is relevant and valuable to review the experiences and reflections in ordinary people's diaries during the lockdown period.

The Wuhan Lockdown, a new book by Guobin Yang, the Grace Lee Boggs Professor of Communication and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, vividly depicts how the city coped during the crisis, using a vast archive of more than 6,000 diaries in voices of the city's people.

"The greatest stories come from ordinary people," said Professor Yang during a webinar co-hosted by Columbia Global Centers | Beijing and Columbia University Press. "A ritualistic recording during the COVID-19 lockdown in Wuhan creates a rhythm of social solidarity."

Joining Professor Yang were Fei Yan, an Associate Professor in Sociology at Tsinghua University, and Zheng Fu, a Ph.D. student and a Paul F. Lazarsfled Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Columbia University.

The discussion focused on reflecting on the remarkable success and lesson learned in Wuhan, the differences between China and the U.S.' COVID-19 response, and how the Wuhan lockdown helped Chinese people understand the greatness of the ordinary.