Affective Politics on the Rise: The Emotional Turn in Studying Politics in Asia – The Case of China and India

Title: 1051 | Affective Politics on the Rise: The Emotional Turn in Studying Politics in Asia – The Case of China and India
Area: Border Crossing and Inter-Area
Stream: Political Sciences
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Yunyun Zhou, University of Oxford, United Kingdom (organizer, chair, presenter)
Rongxin Li, Paris 8 University, France (presenter)
Asha Venugopalan, Azim Premji University, India (presenter)
Varsha Aithala, Azim Premji University, India (presenter)


In the last few years, a renewal of academic interest in affect (the more embodied and less conscious dimension of the human feeling) and emotion (feelings which are more conscious and anchored by language and meaning) is sweeping through all social science disciplines (Clough and Halley, 2007). In political studies, affects and emotions are considered to be intimately involved in the processes of policy making and governance, the state's propaganda and political mobilisation, and in the lived experiences of individual citizens and their quotidian encounters with political actors and institutions (Thompson and Hoggett, 2012). Following this thread of investigation, this panel aims to expand the current application of the Affect Theory to the studies of politics and governance in Asia: more specifically, in its two most populous countries - China and India.

The four papers in this panel explore the multifaceted role of emotion in shaping political attitudes, actions and institutions. The first paper uses representations in state media like images, films and animations to explore how the authoritarian state in China mobilises the human emotions of pride, happiness and harmony to build a new Chinese national identity in the 21st century. The second paper advocates a non-Western-centered approach to investigate the experiments of deliberative democracy in the rural Chinese 'acquaintance society'. The third paper examines the correlation between people's friendship patterns and prejudicial attitudes towards Muslim and Christian minorities in India. The fourth paper chronicles the complicated lives of the Bengali speaking Assamese Muslim migrant domestic workers who navigate their space in the south of Mumbai city in India.

Panel Abstracts:
Engineering 'the Chinese Dream': Emotional Mobilisation and Neo-Nationalism in China's StatePropagandas
Emotion work has always been central to China’s Communist Party revolutionary mobilisations and is often considered a key ingredient in its historical success (Perry, 2002). After forty years of market reform, the authoritarian party-state has been constantly re-reformulating its core political ideologies to both maintain the legitimacy of 'Socialism with Chinese Characteristics' and adapt to the increasingly liberalising economy and culture in the Chinese society. Under such circumstances, how does the party-state renew its strategy of emotional mobilisation through creating new political sentiments and discourses? How does the state media utilise digital means to produce catchy nationalistic content to appeal to the younger generations? This article embarks on an exploration of how the authoritarian state utilises new emotional discourses such the 'Chinese dream', 'cultural confidence', 'history build of blood and sweat' and animated visualisations of these emotions to mobilise feelings of pride, happiness and honour to forge a new national identity of 'Chineseness' in the 21st century. The article uses media representations published by the party-state (both central and local level) as well as the political organisations such as the Youth League and Women’s Federation, such as officially published journalist reports, pictures and images, short films and TV programmes. It is demonstrated by these content analyses that the post-socialist Chinese state has developed a multi-media and systematic emotional mobilisation network, where political sentiments such as pride, happiness, confidence, and contempt have become a crucial part of the authoritarian governance in order to construct a new form of Chinese nationalism.

When Modern Democratic Deliberation Encounters the Confucian Moral Governance: Rethinking the Limitations of Deliberative Practices in An Acquaintance Society in Rural China
The last two decades have witnessed the flourishing of deliberative democracy in China, with ambitions for further implementation of deliberative politics. Existing scholarship largely overlooks the fact that deliberation is an elusive and polysemous notion which develops into variated practices in various social and cultural contexts. This article argues that a non-Western-centered approach needs to be adopted to investigate the deliberative experiments in rural China. Through a three month fieldwork conducted in the village committee and county-level party-state in rural China, the article argues that the rural community in China inherits a strong influence of Confucius moral values of a collectivist sense of self, the rule of the elderly and the respect for social hierarchy. These values and practices have posed significant challenges to the latest deliberative experiments, while the latter assumes and requires an individualistic, rational and competitive cultural foundation to function. This article aims to bring in new insights in explaining the incompatibility between liberalist deliberative governance approaches and the informal, hierarchical and highly moralised public order in rural Chinese 'acquaintance society'.

The Effect of Affect: Friendship, Education and Prejudice
Negative perceptions of religious and ethnic minorities provide abundant ammunition for populist and nationalist politics in many countries, including India. The role of affect in the creation of nationalist sentiment is best recorded by Leyens et al. (2003) who point out that nationalism combines two biases i.e. ingroup favouritism (reflected in patriotism or "we feel pride or love for our country") and outgroup derogation ("we hate the groups other than our"). In this paper, we are particularly interested in the affective formation of political attitudes towards outgroup or 'the other' in contemporary Indian politics. India's multi-party politics is characterised by strong ties influenced by caste, religion, and prejudicial attitudes towards 'the other'. This is especially visible in the tense relations between majority Hindus, and the minority religious communities of Muslims and Christians. Prejudice and animosity towards these minorities forms the unifying feature of Hindutva politics and the ruling parties (Palshikar, 2015).Given that outgroup derogation as part of a prejudicial attitude, would having contact with members of an outgroup result in an increased positive perception? Does having close friendship ties with religious minorities influence one’s attitude towards that minority community? To answer these questions, we use data from a collaborative study conducted by Azim Premji University and Loknitititled "Politics and Society between Elections" which covers 23 Indian states and the national capital. We argue there is a correlation between people’s friendship patterns and the impact of this choice on their perceptions towards religious minorities in India.

This panel is on Tuesday - Session 05 - Room 3

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