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Does modernizing mean westernizing? Western views of new China's graphic design 1998-2008

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posted on 24.05.2021, 09:50 by Catherine Jo Ishino
This paper seeks to describe the Western visual hegemonic discourse surrounding the graphic design of what is now called 'the New China' in the two decades prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and the current global economic crisis. I will make the case before 2008 and the Peoples Republic of China's (PRC) triumphant Olympic Games, China's design was of being seen as a 'subaltern visual object.' from the perspective of the Western design profession. The latter's stance lags far behind the prevailing counter-hegemonic narratives of the long-standing postcolonialists' theories and theorists of the 1970s - 1980s. So in taking up the postcolonialists' counter-hegemonic narratives, I contend the Western designers' narrative of China was envisaged when the 'Occidental' hemisphere, perceived itself as reigning supreme over the 'Oriental' hemisphere, at a time when Euro-American capitalism was at its apex during the 19th and 20th centuries. The latter deemed their industrial and information revolutionp as justifiable affirmations of their international imperialistic power. The Westernized hegemonic capitalism and image-driven consumer ethos became globally pervasive. However, following the visual tour de force of the 2008 Olympics and the West's dramatic economic instability in late 2008, I believe the subordinate view of the New Chinese graphic design, held by the West, merits and requires a second look.



Master of Arts


Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type