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Franchise nations: The future of the nation?

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In this paper, I extend the notion of franchise nations, borrowed from Neal Stephenson's cyberpunk novel Snow Crash (1993), in order to employ it as a device for thinking about the future of the nation. I argue the concept to be particularly well suited for such contemplation because of its sound grounding in the historical intermesh of economic, political and cultural motivations intrinsic to the concept as well as lived experience of the nation. I illustrate this very briefly by casting (mainland) China as the master franchisor and the overseas Chinese as franchisees. Specifically, I discuss the media events concerning China that took place during 2008, such as the protests and counter-protests that occurred at various legs of the Olympic Torch Relay, the Sichuan earthquake of 12 May and the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics on 8 August, and reactions to these happenings from overseas Chinese located variously in Australia, Canada and the United States. I argue that employing the notion of franchise nations lays bare the commercial and political instrumentalism behind the promotion and courtship of diasporas by home nations but, crucially, also aids in the understanding of the reciprocal processes by which franchisees are fashioned out of these communities. Finally, I suggest that, aside from China, franchise nations may also be a useful approach for thinking about how nations like India and Singapore are expanded, exported and explained into the future.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Faculty of Media, Culture & Creative Arts, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia

Publication date: 01 December 2009

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