Race, gender, and Occidentalism in global reactionary discourses: China as method

Key information

3:15 pm to 5:00 pm

About this event

This talk seeks to contribute to a global understanding of reactionary discursive formations at the current historical conjuncture, foregrounding the centrality of global whiteness, masculinism, and a renewed imagination of “the West” as well as gendered East/West binaries. 

This entails not only attending to the operation of reactionary sensibilities, tropes, and memes in “non-white” and “non-Western” geographies, but also examining the particular imaginaries of the global integral to their operation in both the West and the Global Easts. I first illuminate global and civilizational imaginaries integral to the resurgence of authoritarianism, ethnonationalism, and social conservativism across diverse settings. 

I then scrutinize the workings of global racial entanglements, masculinism, and gendered East/West binaries in Chinese anti-baizuo discourse, encompassing both techno-nationalist communities on social media and self-styled “Trumpist” intellectuals critical of the Chinese regime. While they both reproduce the far right metanarrative about the “Western civilization”, imagined to be racially pure and socio-politically masculine in the past, being threatened by ethnocultural diversity and an emasculating political culture, they incorporate these representations within different ideological constellations and positionings in relation to global whiteness and liberal hegemony. 

The article contributes to the growing literature elucidating that reactionary counter-movements to liberal orders emerge within rather than against liberal and neoliberal structures.

About the speaker

Chenchen Zhang is an assistant professor in international relations at Durham University. Her current research is broadly concerned with postcolonial nationalism, the global right, and the politics of difference. 

She is a co-editor of Geopolitics and co-host of the shicha podcast.

Image by Ling Tang via Unsplash