06/03/2023 (Monday) 13:00-14:00 E21B-G035

Taming the Barbarian Empress: Post-alteric Imaginary of Gender Egalitarianism and Pan-Chinese Nationalism in the Legend of Xiao Chuo


Representations of ethnic minority women often symbolized China’s efforts in nation- building. This study uses insights from the post-alteric frame to analyze the images of the Khitan empress Xiao Yanyan in the 2020 TV series the Legend of Xiao Chuo. It uses a critical multimodal discourse analysis of the series and viewer comments to examine three images of Xiao as her relationships with two romantic partners unfolds: the unruly and innocent child; the self-sacrificing political victim; and the pan-Chinese superheroine. Taming the great Khitan empress has created a spectacular matriarchal fiction for cosmopolitan Chinese post-feminists and endorsed the grand narrative of assimilating ethnic minorities into the building of China’s identity as a pan-Chinese “melting-pot.”


Dongjing Kang is Associate Professor in the School of Media and Communication at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). She holds a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Ohio University and an M.A. from University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Before joining SJTU, she served as Assistant Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University and Instructor at University of Colorado-Denver. Her research lies in the intersection of (inter)cultural communication, organizational communication, and media studies. She has explored decolonial communication theories, technological organizing for minority languages revitalization in Tibetan autonomous regions, and media representation of ethnic minorities in China. She has published essays in Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, Qualitative Inquiry, Language & Intercultural Communication, and Chinese Journal of Communication.