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Title: Heterographic translations : reading China’s media computerization through its characters?
Authors: Bahroun, A
Issue Date: 2015
Source: Minor Culture, Cultural Studies Association of Australasia (CSAA), University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 1-3 Dec 2015 How to cite?
Abstract: Given its unprecedented evolution over the past 20 years, the Chinese Internet has attracted a sustained scholarly attention. However, politically-oriented and deterministic perspectives largely dominate this various field of inquiry. Along with academic discourses, social commentaries construct the Internet in China as an enclosed and agonistic arena between China’s governments and Chinese netizens. A peculiar form of media artefacts has arised under the notion of 'sensitive words' a blurred category that served to illustrate the problematic relationship of dissent and contentious discourse in search of visibility with the hindering forces of internet censors.
In this paper, I argue that the portrayal of this tension between governmental agents and ordinary internet users deeply inherits from a fascinated perception of Chinese writing system, refered to as Ideographic Modernism by Christopher Bush (2012). Extensive lexicons, dictionnaries, even entire encyclopedias of the 'Chinese Internet language' operate semiotic reductions of the 'sensitive words' presenting them as metonymic capsules of China’s recent cultural evolutions and political changes. Such procedures culminate in a techno-orientalism when accompanied by the presence of the expert—the computer scientist—embodying the contemporary version of the Western moral consciousness.
My paper signifies the absence of extensive research on the cultural significiance of Chinese writing’s transformative computerization, by critiquing the specific hermeneutics of Chinese Internet censorship that sets free exuberant interpretations of the encounter between Chinese 'ideographic' language and the Internet technology.
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