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Title:Red tourism in China: Propaganda, space, commodification
Author(s):Lin, Chunfeng
Director of Research:Nerone, John C.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Nerone, John C.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Hay, James; McChesney, Robert W.; McCarthy, Cameron R.; Fu, Poshek
Department / Program:Inst of Communications Rsch
Discipline:Communications and Media
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Red Tourism
commodification of propaganda
contemporary China
media and space
Abstract:This dissertation is about Red Tourism and propaganda. Red Tourism refers to tourism of the People’s Republic of China in which people visit tourist spots with historical significance to either the Communist Party of China (CPC) or the Chinese revolution. A heritage tourism, Red Tourism is a kind of oxymoron. It is a yoking together of two extraordinarily powerful drivers in the cultural language surrounding China. On the one hand, “Red” is associated with ideology, discipline, and loyalty combined with a history of authentic struggle and liberation. On the other hand, tourism designates an ongoing process of capitalization. Eerily, this oxymoronicality of Red Tourism epitomizes the cultural imagination of contemporary China, in which the Chinese state seems simultaneously to be engaged in mining the past for its lucrative images and narrative resources as well as calculating a future linked to a kind of “Red” economy where propaganda/xuanchuan roots, morphs, and thrives. Xuanchuan, propaganda’s counterpart in China, means “disseminating purposeful information,” and is folkloristic in nature, associated with good things and deeds. Nevertheless, this is rarely understood, in part because the way we see propaganda has been fixed; scholars treat propaganda as a method, a technique, and/or a practice, devoting much attention to journalism, the news industry, the media system, and censorship and little to the social space of propaganda. This book is meant to fill that gap. It examines Red Tourism in connection with the transforming power relations between the state and the capitalist, the socialist past and the capitalized present in the communication arena against the backdrop of the world’s second largest economy. I argue that Red Tourism is a social space comprised of all sorts of political pathways and communication networks. As such, Red Tourism is both produced and productive: it was produced by both physical space such as cities, tourist sites, and museums, and abstract space including histories, ideologies, collective memories, (post)socialist nostalgia, social imaginaries and so forth. At the same time, it is (re)producing all of these physical and non-physical networks by following distinctive mechanisms combining the dominant ideology and the capitalist mode of production. It calls for a new theoretical framework and approach that does not belong to traditional propaganda studies. In a number of ways this study aims to go beyond existing work in propaganda studies by illustrating the following: that propaganda is a social space; that there is a propaganda culture in China; that tourism is a popular site of propaganda; that the capitalist can make a profit off of popular propaganda by commodifying and selling it in the market; that although ostensibly commercial and nonideological, commodified propaganda can be even more ideologically powerful, hence, more propagandistic; that the partaking of surplus capital in the commodification of propaganda renders the social space of propaganda even more complicated; and that capitalism is, too, a driving force for the production of state propaganda.
Issue Date:2018-11-26
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Chunfeng Lin
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-02-06
Date Deposited:2018-12

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