Constructions and representations of Chinese identity through England’s curatorial imagination: A corpus-assisted analysis

Keywords: critical discourse analysis, Chinese identity, Arts Council England, representation


This article explores the linguistic representation of Chinese identity in art exhibitions across England in the period immediately following the Umbrella Revolution. It focuses on publicly funded institutions through an analysis of press releases from Art Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) between 2014 and 2020. By employing corpus-assisted methods of analysis (Baker et al. 2008; Partington et al. 2013; Gillings et al. 2023) and drawing on Karen Barad’s (2007) notion of ‘diffraction’ to read through linguistic and artistic practices, we identify five key areas of interest that run throughout the press releases: namely, colonial history, the foregrounding of ethnicity, the media, fantasy, and green issues. This analysis allows us to speculate on how the creative actions of these publicly funded institutions might have contributed to the socio-political Zeitgeist surrounding a racialised population in England, raising important questions for NPOs and other institutions on the role of the curatorial in the forming of social realities, and the extent of their practice in discourse on decolonisation, language, race, and politics. On a theoretical and methodological level, it also allows us to explore potential synergies between corpus-assisted discourse analysis and the arts.


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How to Cite
Chan, J., & Gillings, M. (2024). Constructions and representations of Chinese identity through England’s curatorial imagination: A corpus-assisted analysis. Research in Corpus Linguistics, 12(1), 114–139.