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Politics of visual discourse in China: the corruption cartoon

Chu, Y. (2021) Politics of visual discourse in China: the corruption cartoon. Visual Communication .

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This article investigates single-panel cartoons portraying official corruption in China’s longest- running state-owned cartoon newspaper Cartoon Weekly (Fengci yu youmo). A total of 433 cartoons are identified as relating to corrupt officialdom between 2012 and 2019 in the wake of Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption signature policy. In contrast with the individualizing critique of political cartooning in liberal democracies, the corpus of corruption cartoons investigated in this article is argued as a didactic form of visual schematization in a pseudo-self-critical discourse typically buttressed by verbal reading instructions. To support this claim, the article addresses its politics of visual discourse by employing Peircean hypoiconicity, consisting of direct resemblance, diagrammatic schematization and metaphoric displacement. Accordingly, the article identifies three major features of corruption cartoons as anonymization of direct resemblance, visual schematization of policy and metaphoric displacement of conventional symbols.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): College of Arts, Business, Law and Social Sciences
Asia Research Centre
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Copyright: © 2021 by SAGE Publications
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