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The Hermeneutics of Ephemerality: Digital Media and Radical Politics in Postsocialist China

  • Author(s): Guo, Yizhou
  • Advisor(s): Atanasoski, Neda
  • Rofel, Lisa
  • et al.

Digital Ephemerality: Digital Media and Radical Politics in Postsocialist China visits three youth digital sites in contemporary China to explore the boundary and potentiality of our knowledge about politics in the digital time, precisely what counts as political desires, activities, and futurities in the condition of the postsocialist digital sphere. Analytically, I engage the concept of digital ephemerality, or the postsocialist temporal experience of historical lightness, present absence, and disjointed reality in the digital sphere that Chinese youth, in particular, the generation of youth that I term the postsocialist youth, has vividly felt, engaged and lived. Tracking the collective experience and affect of postsocialist youth about such ephemeral temporality on three digital sites, i.e., an online entertainment program, an interest-based film review website, and a virtual space of influencer economy, I pay special attention to those digital archives that were treated as redundant or disposable. Through collecting, engaging and interpreting with these surplus digital materials, I focus on how these postsocialist digital spheres premise alternative imaginaries of politics that a dichotomous confrontational discourse of resistance against the authoritarian state— a discourse of political that possesses the mainstream form of resistant politics— cannot afford to envision.

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