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Celebrations and Contestations of Chineseness

Celebrations and Contestations of Chineseness

This project belongs to the following research constellations:


Jeroen de Kloet


Staff: Jeroen de Kloet, José van Dijck, Stefan Landsberger

PhD candidates: Gladys Chong, Guohua Zeng


The forthcoming Olympic Games in Beijing (2008) present a unique opportunity to analyze how an upcoming global power promotes itself to its citizens and to the world, and the voices of support and discontent this promotion will provoke. This study will analyze how Chinese authorities (re-)construct a rooted yet new Beijing that signifies a China ready for the 21st century. Given the communication potentials offered by old and, particularly, new media technologies, these imaginations are never fully under the control of the Chinese state but instead also instigate possibilities of protest.

This study consists of three interlocking subprojects. The first project, on promotion, will analyze how China as an upcoming global power promotes itself nationally to its citizens and globally to the world. The second project scrutinizes the pivotal and potentially critical role of local, regional and global media - television and the Internet - in the Chinese Communist Party’s attempt to present a new China, including the role of protest groups. The final project investigates voices of compliance and discontent by zooming in on how bloggers and visual artists in Beijing, Hong Kong and Taipei - two key actors in challenging official discourse in China - appropriate the Games.

The research design includes production, text and audience, while a multi-method approach combines a critical discourse analysis with ethnographic field research. This project takes issue with the balancing act of the Chinese state between nation-building projects and cosmopolitan demands. It shows how journalists, protest groups, bloggers and artists respond to, that is: comply, appropriate, challenge and undermine the state’s attempt to create a unified imagined community. This project aims to understand the cultural impact the Beijing Games will trigger, which concerns not only the Chinese people but, given the increasing global importance of China, also the world at large.


International conference 2009 – provisionally titled “Chineseness and its Discontents – The Beijing Olympics and its Mediations and Appropriations” - in Beijing; Yearly expert meetings: early 2008 (Amsterdam); 2008 (Taipei); 2009 (Beijing); 2010 (Amsterdam); Internet publication: Wiki and project website; 6 journal articles, 2 PhD-dissertations, 1 edited volume, 1 monograph