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Activist sinology and accented documentary: China on the (Italian?) internet

  • Paola Voci (a1)


On the Italian internet, the dominant, Italian-centred – and arguably often nationalistic – discourse on Global China, and, by extension, Global Italy, emphasises economic growth and opportunities. The celebratory and homogenising rhetoric of this discourse has been challenged by a counter-discourse on subaltern China, which focuses on the many, localised social inequities and discriminations suffered by the Chinese – or, more accurately, sinophone – workers. In this counter- discourse, an important role is played by small-screen documentaries on displaced migrants both in the People's Republic of China (PRC) and in Italy. I propose that they provide meaningful evidence of an Italian-accentedsinologia di sinistra’ or activist sinology, which views research as a transnational practice and advocates a stronger link between academic discourse and civil society.

Nel contesto italiano, su internet, il discorso dominante sulla Cina globale – e, per estensione, sull'Italia globale – è spesso nazionalistico ed opportunista e pone la sua enfasi sulla crescita economica. La retorica celebrativa e omogeneizzante di questo discorso è constrastata da un discorso alternativo sulla Cina subalterna che si focalizza sui lavoratori cinesi – o, più precisamente, sinòfoni – e le disuguaglianze sociali e discriminazioni che affrontano a livello locale. In questo discorso, un ruolo importante è svolto dai documentari prodotti per il piccolo schermo che documentano la vita dei lavoratori emigranti sia nella Repubblica popolare cinese (RPC) che in Italia. Propongo che questi documentari, ‘accentati’ sia a livello linguistico che ideologico, fanno parte di una sinologia di sinistra o, per meglio dire, di una sinologia attivista, militante, che intepreta la ricerca come pratica transnazionale e sostiene lo sviluppo di un legame più forte tra il discorso accademico e la società civile.


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Activist sinology and accented documentary: China on the (Italian?) internet

  • Paola Voci (a1)


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