UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Visualising the Belt and Road Initiative on RT: From Infrastructural Project to Human Development

05 December 2019, 5:30 pm–7:30 pm

  Dr Precious.Chatterje-Doody

SSEES Politics and Sociology Seminar Series with Dr Precious Chatterje-Doody (Open University)

This event is free.

Event Information

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Masaryk Room
16 Taviton Street

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a multinational framework for strategic infrastructural and economic collaboration, but target states demonstrate mixed understandings and low levels of trust towards the project. This research paper comprises original research on China’s use of bilateral media cooperation to mediate BRI for foreign publics. Building upon the literature on strategic narratives and aesthetic power, we present a detailed case study of the visual imagery of the ‘Silk Road’ documentary collaboration between China’s and Russia’s state-owned international broadcasters, China Radio International (CRI), and RT (formerly Russia Today). We employ a visual methodology to interrogate the formation and projection of multimodal (visual, textual and oral) narratives about China’s infrastructural activities along this metaphorical new ‘Silk Road’. We ask: What is the relative weighting of Chinese and Russian strategic narratives of the BRI? How does the Silk Road series give sense to China’s BRI? How strategic is Chinese-Russian media partnership? Our analysis reveals several significant findings about Chinese-Russian media collaboration: In re-packaging visual imagery that orientalises the history of core places and technologises their future, the Silk Road series projects a pre-curated Chinese visual narrative of the BRI that romanticizes the underlying infrastructural project as human and cultural development. Russian regional strategic narratives are absent. Thus, despite commercial benefits of the collaboration for Russia’s international broadcaster, the Russian state’s aesthetic power is ceded to China. This paper, therefore, demonstrates both the opportunities and limits of visually reinterpreting strategic narratives by means of cooperative media initiatives.

About the Speaker

Dr Precious Chatterje-Doody

at Open University

Dr Precious Chatterje-Doody is Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at Open University and a co-convener of the British International Studies working group on Russian and Eurasian Security. Her research centres on questions of communication, perception and security, with a particular focus on Russia. She has published articles in Politics, Critical Studies on Security, and Media and Communication, and her books entitled ‘The Russian identity riddle: Unwrapping Russia’s security policy’ (2020) and ‘Russia Today and Conspiracy Theories’ (2021, with Dr. Ilya Yablokov, Leeds University) are forthcoming with Routledge. She tweets @PreciousChatD.