Strategic narratives, visuality and infrastructure in the digital age: the case of China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative

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Abstract

Visual communication is at the heart of international relations in the digital age. Using a range of media tools, political elites communicate so-called ‘strategic narratives’ to persuade and influence the behaviour of target audiences. The existing body of research on ‘strategic narratives’ examines both spoken and written messages. While an academic focus on visual texts is emerging, limited attention has been given to the visualization of peaceful topics such as infrastructure projects. This paper examines the ontological and methodological foundations of ‘strategic narratives’, ‘visuality’, and ‘infrastructure’, to ascertain what seeing strategic narratives on infrastructure means in the study of global politics. The theoretical claims are demonstrated using the case study of China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative. Herein, it is shown how China communicates strategic narratives on infrastructure to persuade target audiences of its foreign policy priorities, and to secure its self-concept. This communication process is supported by images in the digital sphere.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalCambridge Review of International Affairs
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • China
  • Digital age
  • Infrastructure
  • Maritime Silk Road Initiative
  • Strategic narratives
  • Visuality

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