Theses Doctoral

Cultural Representations in/as the Global Studies Curriculum: Seeing and Knowing China in the United States

Mungur, Amy

This study is an examination of how two popular magazines, National Geographic and Life magazine, and one educational journal, Social Education, perform the work of representation in general, and representing China more specifically. Drawing on postcolonial theorists (Blaut, 1993; Said, 1978; Tchen, 1999; wa Thiong'o, 1986; Willinsky, 1998), the perspectives employed throughout this study explore how representations can work to fix meaning and extend difference through imperialist structures and an orientalist lens. In addition, theories of photographic representation work alongside postcolonial perspectives to draw out the constructed nature of representation, and how representation - through language and/or image - can work to capture and secure the meaning of difference and perpetuate division.
National Geographic, Life, and Social Education are pedagogical in different ways, yet all three used language and image to bring China into view for the Western reader. Conceptualized as sources of cultural pedagogy, these journals employed specific pedagogical practices, which reinforced imperialist structures of Western dominance over the non-Western world. Notably, National Geographic's travelogue, Life's photo-essay, and Social Education's educational resources, worked to teach/instruct their readers, primarily middle class Americans, about China.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Teaching of Social Studies
Thesis Advisors
Schmidt, Sandra
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014