Congratulations, Dr Chen!

By June 6, 2013News
Dr Xiaoxiao Chen on her graduation day at Macquarie University

Dr Xiaoxiao Chen on her graduation day at Macquarie University

Language on the Move proudly presents another new PhD!

Dr Xiaoxiao Chen graduated from Macquarie University last week. Her PhD was awarded for her thesis about “Opening China to the Tourist Gaze: Representations of Chinese People and Languages in Newspaper Travel Writing since the 1980s.”


Since its opening up in the 1980s, China has become a major international tourist destination. This study examines the ways in which China has been represented as an international tourist destination since the 1980s both in tourism discourses emanating from the West, represented by travelogues from the New York Times (the NYT), and from within China, represented by travelogues from China Daily (CD).

Building on Said’s critique of Orientalism and applying the analytical toolkit of critical multimodal discourse analysis, the study reveals that Chinese people under the tourist gaze are represented in only a small number of ways: first and foremost, Chinese people are represented as destination scenery, appearing as symbols of timelessness, human circumstances, and objects in both newspapers. Meanwhile, there are different sub-themes in the two newspapers that fit together in framing Chinese people as scenery. In the NYT, ordinary people are portrayed as the ‘exotic’ touristified Other, faceless masses, and differentiated communities. In CD, they are depicted as cultural performers, community representatives, and displayers of ethnic costumes. Second, if presented as engaging in interactions with tourists, Chinese people are shown to be endowed with the subservient character of helpers, being cast in the roles of informants, guides, hosts, and servers. Third, in the NYT only, they are sometimes reversely represented as ‘foreigners’ in their own country who are portrayed as overtly reacting to American visitors. Another way to construct China as simple, exotic, and inferior is through the representation of its linguistic landscape, which is characterized as homogeneous, incomprehensible, lacking English, and lacking correct English.

Overall, the study demonstrates that contemporary travel writing in English, irrespective of whether it emanates from the USA or from China, contributes to the continuation of Orientalist discourses that represent Chinese people and China’s linguistic landscape as signifiers of the Other to be consumed by Western tourists.

The full text of the thesis is available for download here.

Aspects of Xiaoxiao’s research are discussed in these blog posts: “Orientalism and tourism” (English version and Chinese version) and “The exotic Chinese language.”

Xiaoxiao’s higher degree research was supported by a Macquarie University Excellence Scholarship and supervised by Professor Ingrid Piller and Dr Kimie Takahashi.

Congratulations, Xiaoxiao!

Author Lg_on_the_move

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  • Guo Jian

    Congratulatons to Dr. Xiaoxiao Chen and wish you a better future!!

    Thank you for sharing the thesis! Quite beneficial and excellent!!

  • Li Jia

    Congratulations Dr. Chen for your record-breaking achievement under Ingrid’s supervision!
    May your future job and academic publications work just as efficient and productive!

  • Dariush Izadi

    Congratulations Dr Chen,

    Best of luck in all your future endeavors.

  • Shifeng

    Congratulations. I am really proud of you.

  • Saeed Rezaei

    Dear Xiaoxiao,
    Congratulations on your superb performance and best wishes for you 🙂

  • Shasha

    Congrats! I feel proud of you and your work.

    Wish you very good luck in the future!

    I am looking forward to meeting you back in China!

  • Karen Mortimer

    Brilliant!!!! I just read your blog and your observations about how language and travelers intersect–or not. I think you hit the “nail on the head” when you observed that the travel writers oftentimes come off as showcasing the “me” in the intercultural travel experience. I look forward to reading your dissertation. It took at different tack you your original idea, but I see how you are breaking new ground with your research and analysis.

  • Victoria Benz

    Congratulations, Xiaoxiao!!!! What a great achievement!

  • Khan

    Heartiest Congratulations Dr. Chen and Professor Ingrid. Your work is bold and groundbreaking. Impressed.


  • Donna Butorac

    Well done, Xiaoxiao, and thank you for writing to share your news! I hope your important work gets some good traction in the public domain, especially in media discourses.
    All the best,

  • Xiaoxiao Chen

    My dear friends, thank you very much for your warmest messages! I wish you all the best in your life and work! Let’s stay in touch here on Language on the Move.