Returns of the Other: The Roles of Repetition and Representation in Mass-Media Coverage of Japan-Taiwan Relations

Detta är en avhandling från Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen

Författare: Jens Sejrup; [2011]


Sammanfattning: This dissertation is a thematic reading of 1,574 items from four Japanese and three Taiwanese major daily newspapers published in the 2000-2008 period. It argues that the concepts of repetition and representation play key structural and narrative roles in the sources and outlines how these concepts operate and how they interrelate on a content level as well as on a level of larger media frameworks. Three types of repetition are discerned in the sources: Repetition as continuity claims Japan to have maintained its “eternal” traditions and culture intact and works to create sentimental reassurance. It denies fundamental breaks between Japan and Taiwan and between “old” and contemporary Japan. However, it requires Japan to be regarded as a “special” place with its own unique character. Repetition as imitation imagines Japan as a model for Taiwan to emulate and regards reiteration of Japanese precedent as a sign of Taiwanese development. It too has a sentimental effect, and certain media accusations of hypocrisy are based on a failure in the accused to discern its operation in public discourse. Repetition as resurrection features a “scared Japan” rhetoric clamoring for the return of a “Japanese spirit”. It is linked to discussions on “abnormality” and “normalization” in academic studies, and pictures Japan and Taiwan as united by strategic interests. Based on ideas of “national character”, it is a political response to globalization and the growing influence of China. Representation is also demonstrated to be operating in three distinct forms: Representation by others features representatives acting on behalf of victims portrayed as unable to represent themselves or to pursue their own interests publicly. While the stated purpose is to provide relief and redress, the form requires the represented to remain locked to their role as sufferers. Representation by synecdoche involves the ascription upon agents of representative roles for certain groups. Turning individual agents into representatives allows their acts to be explained and morally condemned on a larger and more dramatic scale. Counter-representation claims to represent an object more adequately than other established representations. It does so by mirroring the object, by denying it singularity, or by presenting it as different by nature from how it otherwise appears. The use of this form suggests that Taiwanese postcoloniality is reactive and lacks primary agency. These insights are then correlated to features of the mass media systems of Japan and Taiwan. The Japanese newspaper market provides little motivation for “elite” media to stand out, and the uniformity of the source media is related in kind to the content theme of repetition in the analyzed material. The tendency of the Japanese source media to concentrate on instances of repetition is reflected in their practice of ordering reality by shaping news narratives within repeated frames. Partly due to their history of different political affiliations, the Taiwanese source media attempt to lock other media to representative functions and tend to frame coverage within a problematic of repeated representation. The dissertation does not investigate text-external factors. It aims to pinpoint rhetorical and structural elements in the source texts and to establish insights into mass mediated narratives and interpretations in public discourse. The motifs of repetition and representation in the sources underline the importance of creative structuring for news presentations of what purportedly happened and why.

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