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China is a hare: The articulation of national identity in Year Hare Affair

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National identity is dynamic and dialogic, and its maintenance and reproduction have become increasingly fragmented and fractured. Although recent studies have discerned different modes of articulating national identity, very few studies have focused on youth culture and the maintenance and reproduction of national identity in China. Therefore, this study analyses metaphors, discursive practices and ideologies in the Chinese animation Na nian na tu na xie shi er (Year Hare Affair) using a coherent theoretical framework of multimodal metaphor and critical discourse analysis. First, four genres of multimodal metaphors are identified in animation. Next, this study analyses the ideologies and discursive practices of metaphors and argues that elements of what is called ‘ACG subculture’ – due to its focus on animation, comics and games – articulate elements of dominant culture by raising semantic conflicts in metaphor scenarios. The practice of articulation-produced national identity is informed by the conceptual metaphor CHINA IS A HARE. This metaphor, suggesting historic endurance and the lineage of the Chinese spirit, is an ideologically vested euphemism for national identity that embraces a dual notion of identity that is both national and individual. Finally, the novel reproduction of an endogenous and heterogeneous national identity in animation provides us with space to re-imagine the interplay between national identity, dominant ideology and Chinese youth.
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Keywords: China; articulation; dominant culture; multimodal metaphor; national identity; youth culture

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Jinan University

Publication date: November 1, 2018

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  • Empedocles aims to provide a publication and discussion platform for those working at the interface of philosophy and the study of communication, in all its aspects. This Journal is published in cooperation with the Section for the Philosophy of Communication of ECREA, the European Communication Reserach and Education Association.
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