Under the Socialist Gaze : Solidarity, Soft Power, and China’s Representation of Africa in Two Eras

Miao LU*

*Corresponding author for this work

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

Abstract

Based on visual analysis of the China Pictorial magazine in two historical periods (Mao and post-Mao), this article identifies six key themes of representing Africa in Chinese state media and finds a parallel between China’s representation of Africa, Sino-African relations, and the shifting geopolitics. Different from Western stereotypes about Africa, China Pictorial constructs a romanticized image of Africa, which is interpreted through the concept of the “socialist gaze.” Empirically, this article explains and historicizes how China Pictorial constructs meanings about Africa through its visual representational systems, shedding new light on China–Africa relations and the increasingly active South–South media flows. Theoretically, this article expands our understanding of media representation beyond the “colonial gaze.” While the “socialist gaze” may function as a counter-representation to the “colonial gaze,” it can also create new differences and stereotypes, thus enhancing power asymmetry between China and Africa.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Asian and African Studies
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • China-Africa
  • representation
  • socialist gaze
  • counter-representation
  • Mao
  • post-Mao

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