Affect in Chinese cyberspace and beyond : Language objects and affective regimes in rural hostels

Feifei ZHOU*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article aims to expand current scholarship on affect in semiotic landscapes through studying a common, yet under-researched practice in Chinese hostels. A product of the emerging experience economy, rural hostels represent the latest trend in commercializing language and affect. This is the first study to focus on a crucial branding practice in rural hostels, i.e., emplacement of language objects that resemiotize various resources from Chinese cyberspace, a vibrant space with dynamic circulations of affects. The affective economy of such objects mediated through chains of language commodification (crossing online-offline boundary via Taobao, etc.) will be examined. I will show that hybrid features and complex trajectories of such objects accentuate the interpenetrations of the digital and the physical in a physically-demarcated land, further complicating the concept of ‘semiotic landscape’. Field-work data collected from southern China will be analyzed to explain the role of language objects in constructing distinctive affective regimes. I will conclude by discussing potential conflicts of these regimes with rural spaces and implications of these place-making practices against the backdrop of an increasingly wired rural China. In particular, it is suggested that rural residents' new roles within Chinese cyberspace may further shape the affective economy of language objects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-90
Number of pages17
JournalLanguage and Communication
Early online date26 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This article is part of a research project investigating linguistic landscapes and Chinese writing in transitional China, funded by Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (project code: LU 23601219).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Affective economy
  • Affective regime
  • Language commodification
  • Rural tourism
  • Semiotic landscape
  • The Chinese internet


Dive into the research topics of 'Affect in Chinese cyberspace and beyond : Language objects and affective regimes in rural hostels'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this