Visual narratives: the Belt and Road Initiative in Xinjiang

Item Type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Abstract Since Xi Jinping’s announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, China has stipulated economic agreements with over a hundred countries and developed trade links across Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America. As China’s influence spreads worldwide, international media and scholarly debates have increasingly explored the rapidly changing power relations. While recent scholarship discusses the BRI from the fields of geography, international relations, and economics, few studies have yet examined perceptions of the BRI within China from the visual arts. This paper analyses contemporary works by artists Zhao Zhao and Liu Yujia to shed light on underrepresented visual narratives of the BRI in Xinjiang province. Due to its strategic position near the north-western border, this region is undergoing extensive urban transformations at the expense of its people and cultural heritage. While Zhao’s work mocks the technological and infrastructural development and attempts to preserve certain cultural traditions of Xinjiang, Liu stretches the temporal and spatial boundaries of the BRI and re-imagines this commercial route through granular images, time-overlaps, and uncanny views. Rather than viewing China as a threatening ‘Other’, this paper responds to the urgency to comprehend China’s indigenous socio-cultural dimensions. Moreover, it problematises the domestic changes imposed by the BRI and critically analyses the alternative visualisations offered by Zhao’s and Liu’s multimedia work. Finally, by approaching the BRI from the perspective of visual arts, this presentation breaks new ground for an emerging scholarly debate and new interdisciplinary framework to grasp the BRI.
Authors Mirra, Federica & Berg, Daria
Language English
Subjects cultural studies
other research area
HSG Profile Area SHSS - Kulturen, Institutionen, Maerkte (KIM)
Date 27 August 2022
Event Title EACS 2022
Event Location Olomouc, Czech Republic
Event Dates 24-27 August 2022
Contact Email Address
Depositing User Dr. Federica Mirra
Date Deposited 07 Sep 2022 09:02
Last Modified 28 Sep 2022 09:19


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Mirra, Federica & Berg, Daria: Visual narratives: the Belt and Road Initiative in Xinjiang. 2022. - EACS 2022. - Olomouc, Czech Republic.

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