Tibet, Economic Development and the Affective Politics of Online State Media in the PRC

Tibet, Economic Development and the Affective Politics of Online State Media in the PRC
26 January 2022, 4.00pm - 5.00pm

Speaker: Séagh Kehoe (Westminster)

Chinese state media coverage about Tibet has long been dominated by stories about state-led economic growth. In recent years, the focus of these stories has shifted from macro-level descriptions of infrastructure, science and technology, income, and education, to a more granular approach that foregrounds dramatized and emotionalized narratives of individual Tibetans engaging in and reaping the benefits of economic development. Seeking to understand this trend, this paper examines the increasing production and circulation of affect in online state media stories about economic development in Tibet. Through a selection of texts, videos and social media posts, it analyses how and why repeated references to hardship, happiness and gratitude have come to characterize these stories and how they work to valorize Tibetan diligence, self-responsibility, and patriotism, obscure structural inequalities and consolidate Chinese rule over Tibet. In doing so, this paper shows the increasingly sophisticated and creative ways in which the state has harnessed the power of affect and new media to manage public opinion about Tibet in the PRC and reinforce political power.  

Séagh Kehoe is a Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Westminster. Their research interests include Chinese media representations of ethnicity and race, gender and sexuality, nationalism, and military. They have published in China Quarterly, positions, Media, Culture & Society, and Asian Ethnicity, and are co-editor of Cultural China: The Contemporary China Review 2020

This event is part of the Digital Modern Languages seminar series. The series is convened by Paul Spence (King’s College London), Naomi Wells (Institute of Modern Languages Research), Joe Dale (independent languages consultant), Orhan Elmaz (St Andrews), Saskia Huc-Hepher (Westminster) and Xuan Wang (Cardiff)

All are welcome to attend this free seminar, held online via zoom at 16:00 GMT. You will need to register in advance to receive the online event joining link. Please click on the Book Now button below to register.

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Cathy Collins