WP101 Inauthentic authenticity: Semiotic design & globalization in the margins of China

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This paper investigates authenticity as semiotic processes in the context of China and its deepening globalization processes by drawing on ethnographic observations of Enshi, a remote ethnic minority area perceived and experienced as a geopolitical and sociocultural margin in China. It pays particular attention to two sociolinguistic niches emerging from Enshi?s recent involvement in China?s economic reform and modernization: Internet hip-hop subculture, and ethnic heritage tourism. In each case, authenticity is both a niched identity opportunity and a highly sensitizing issue in which a number of scaled normative frameworks, ranging from the local to the global, are brought to bear by those who, out of necessity and desire, seek new meanings of authenticity and new ways of realizing it under new conditions. The pattern of these processes is ?semiotic design?, which involves deliberate and strategic effort in reassembling the local semiotic repertoire through manipulating and inventing specific semiotic resources, so as to satisfy old local norms of authenticity while gaining new translocal recognitions elsewhere.