Twitter Bodhisattva: Ai Weiwei's Media Politics

Item Type Journal paper
Abstract This article investigates artist and activist Ai Weiwei's media politics. In 1997 Ai Weiwei imagined a modernist movement that would practise a "non- compromising vigilance on society and power" and since 2005 he has embraced blogging and micro-blogging to enact such intent. We argue that his "communi- cation activism" is part of a broader artistic and political program that long pre- dates his online presence. The study examines how the artist has experimented with blogging and micro-blogging to spread his message of "awakening" in defi- ance of censorship and surveillance. It shows how Ai Weiwei's communication strategy combines an international celebrity status, criticism, irony and a round- the-clock interaction with his netizen audience and the media. It also critiques the effectiveness and coherence of this mode of activism from two perspectives - namely, Jean Baudrillard's analysis of "private telematics" and Jodi Dean's "blog theory" - and finally assesses its impact. The study aims to enhance our understanding of the web-based communication strategies of Chinese activists, shedding light on cultural production and consumption in Chinese cyberspace as a socio-political barometer.
Authors Strafella, Giorgio & Berg, Daria
Journal or Publication Title Asian Studies Review
Language English
Keywords China, Ai Weiwei, activism, art, blogging, communication, intellectuals, social media, surveillance, Twitter
Subjects cultural studies
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
Refereed Yes
Date 30 January 2015
Publisher Routledge
Place of Publication Abingdon
Volume 39
Number 1
Page Range 138-157
Number of Pages 20
ISSN 1035-7823
ISSN-Digital 1467-8403
Publisher DOI
Depositing User Dr. Giorgio Strafella
Date Deposited 16 Feb 2015 17:08
Last Modified 01 Feb 2023 01:23


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Strafella, Giorgio & Berg, Daria (2015) Twitter Bodhisattva: Ai Weiwei's Media Politics. Asian Studies Review, 39 (1). 138-157. ISSN 1035-7823

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