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Frames, Locations, and Performances of Memory
A Semiotic and Geographical Approach to Monuments in the Post-Soviet Era
Grenzen, Herausforderungen und Perspektiven des neueren Shoah-Gedenkens
Retracing the Ruptures of Art and Memory in the Yugoslav People's Liberation Struggle

Abstract

Chinese politics are characterized by the complex issues of a large population and centralized political powers, which offers a distinct political model from the Western models. However, the last two decades have witnessed a sharp collision between Chinese and Western political thinking. In response, domestic authors have increasingly focused on the indigenization (bentuhua 本土化) of Chinese political theories and, therefore, defend the concept of politics with Chinese characteristics. In this article, the authors focus on the discourse of “deliberative democracy” within the Chinese language, namely, Xieshang minzhu 协商 民主. In the current literature, almost no scholarly discussions have explored the semantics of the notion of Xieshang minzhu within Chinese politics. This article engages with this issue, both as a subject and a methodology, to better understand the political language that has been used in the official discourses in China1 by 1) establishing a textual corpus by collecting relevant data into the Chinese and English groups through keywords; 2) conducting a statistical analysis based on the Word Cloud and Diagram analyses; and 3) using Word2Vec to calculate the relationship among other sub-keywords. The purpose of this contribution is to differentiate Xieshang minzhu as adopted by Chinese official discourses embedded in the logic of political reforms from the Western discourses. The semantic analysis presented here also serves as a methodology that systematically develops a conceptual model of xieshang, which further clarifies the misconceptions and errors in the existing literature. The authors also provide an outline of the polysemic notion of deliberative democracy, which not only exists within an authoritarian regime but is also present in other forms and other languages (such as Chinese). This serves to further maintain the legitimacy of the “socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics.”

Footnotes

1

Official propaganda mainly includes five of China’s most authoritative official media (newspapers): People’s Daily (Renmin ribao 人民 日报), Guangming Daily (Guangming ribao 光明 日报), Xinhua Daily(Xinhua ribao 新华 日报), China Comment (Banyutan 半月谈), Qiushi (Qiushi 求是, formerly known as Red Flag (Hongqi 红旗)), Xi Jinping’s series of important speech databases and official documents on the subject of Xieshang or Xieshang minzhu in the Party-Building Database.

Abstract

This article explores the media environment in Turkmenistan from a comparative perspective, analyzing periods when this Central Asian nation was ruled by President Saparmurat Niyazov and his successor Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. It examines critical trends of the media system’s development since the early 1990s and onward based on the political culture established under the ruling of these two state leaders. The paper argues that media plays a primary role in building a cult of personality of Saparmurat Niyazov, which was further implemented and developed by the administration of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. A case study of the Turkmen TV channels, in particular, is focused on styles of presenting materials, the language and propaganda techniques (clichés, slogans, labels), used to promote the cult of personality. The article analyzes the behaviors of the constructors and supporters of the cult of personality using the concept of the political culture in authoritarianism. Thus, the paper outlines that with some moderate dynamics in the media system, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov continues to strictly control media – the policies established by his predecessor, who used methods of total control and censorship of all media outlets in the country.

Abstract

This paper focuses on the case analysis of the memorial to the victims of state terror – the Wall of Grief (Stena skorbi) – which was unveiled on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the November 7, 1917, coup d’état. Using this example, we have attempted to elaborate a structure for a more complex analysis of the memory of past regimes’ manifestation and to create a methodological base for their comparison. We have based our research on the discourse theory by the so-called Essex School, the social semiotics by Kress, and the procedures of the critical discourse analysis. The procedure that we have considered relevant consists of the following: (a) description of the social context in which the memorial was manifested as a piece of evidence; (b) semiotic analysis of the memorial artifact; (c) analysis of verbal practices, as well as written and spoken texts that “explained” the memorial; and (d) analysis of nonverbal practices, namely, rituals. On the basis of our case study, we have come to the conclusion that when carrying out a semiotic analysis and the analysis of verbal and nonverbal practices in the case of the Russian public discourse, it is especially relevant to pay attention not only to widening vs. narrowing of the chronological framework, generalization vs. concretization, and specification of the traumatic experience but also to the question of framing of the memorial. In regard to the semiotic analysis, the extent of indexicality is considered to be very important in the sense of the bodily connection with an element of the commemorated event that bestows “truthfulness” and authenticity on the memorial. We assume that particularly present-day Russia, where explicit attempts to reinterpret the history of the authoritarian communist state and attempts to instrumentalize the totalitarian period according to the vector of the current political direction may be seen, is a relevant object of this kind of research.

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