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ERIC Number: EJ846002
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jun
Pages: 19
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 30
ISSN: ISSN-0010-096X
Rhetoric, Literacy, and Social Change in Post-Mao China
Wexler, Steven
College Composition and Communication, v60 n4 p808-826 Jun 2009
State, citizen, and corporate readings of a multifarious "Chineseness" fundamentally shape the space where East and West clash in post-Mao China. This dialectic represents a citizen's working-through a crisis of agency and a nation's negotiation of its role within a global economy. Given that China's subaltern literacies operate within an Occidentalism that is to some degree written by the Chinese state, the author's claim here is twofold. First, with recent economic reform and transnational influence, China's official Occidentalism turns the West's capitalist gaze on China's own subaltern population via internal Orientalism: state, media, and urban elite Orientalize those subjects who cannot participate in China's new production and consumption schemes. Second, subaltern literacies are a potential counter-discourse that resists internal Orientalism by manifesting ruptures in "discursive knowledges [that] constitute the political consciousness of class-differentiated subjects" (Ong 141). Like Brandt's analysis of literacy in the United States, this essay has tried to demonstrate that literacy enables and appropriates subversive discourse. China's official discourse disseminates a version of Western neoliberalism and democracy through various political media in an effort to placate international trade organizations, and often these rhetorics find an unintentional target. China's migrants absorb and negotiate, if not outright resist, the pejorative construction cast upon them. This construction--the backward, "country bumpkin"--signifies not only the historical disenfranchisement of China's rural citizenry but also the more recent dialogic, Occidental devaluing of "all" nonparticipatory, illiterate global subjects (that is, coextensive with China's internal Orientalism). China's migrant laborers are beginning to find viable means of collectivity through organizations and literacy sponsors such as Pun's Chinese Working Women Network and the All China Women's Federation mentioned above. Their battle, of course, is not only with the hostile, alienating work conditions brought on by China's globalism, but also with the ubiquitous consumer culture that now reaches from China's cityscapes to its rural provinces. (Contains 8 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: China; United States