Making space for emotions: exploring China-Africa 'mediated relationships' through CCTV-9's documentary African Chronicles (Feizhou jishi)

2019-04-11T08:17:11Z (GMT) by G Puppin
This article explores how the image of China ‘as engaged with Africa’ is promoted within China, by looking at a State-sanctioned, Chinese-language media text targeting the domestic audience. It first proposes two paradigm shifts: in the direction adopted in investigating China’s soft power, and in the dimension considered in exploring China–Africa media interactions. After reviewing the relevant existing literature, it introduces African Chronicles (Feizhou jishi 非洲纪事), a TV documentary screened by CCTV-9 in 2011, and carries out a social semiotic analysis of the first episode, A Journey through Memory (Jiyi zhilü 记忆之旅). The analysis reveals that the storytelling of Prof. Ge, the protagonist, is instrumental in reminding the audience of the old rhetoric of the revolutionary years; it also serves the function of dismissing its adaptability to the contemporary postsocialist era, characterized by a less explicit political engagement and the prominence of economic interests. More importantly, this article illustrates that what unites China and Africa in this episode is the ‘emotional bond’, in its different variations, which has the power to stand the test of time and shorten both a physical and an emotional distance through what Ahmed callls a ‘narrative of love’ (The Cultural Politics of Emotion, 2004).