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‘They don’t need us’: affective precarity and critique in transnational media work from the margins of ‘Cultural China’

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/11/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Media, Culture and Society
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date30/11/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Creative labour studies has yielded much critical insights from workers’ experiences of ‘precarity’ and ‘self-exploitation’ with increasing neo-liberalization. This important work’s overwhelming focus on the critique of neoliberalism based on Euro American case studies risk overlooking insights that can be gained from other socio-geopolitical contexts. Drawing on a mix of ethnographic observations and interviews with transnational media producers in Singapore working at the margins of the mainland Chinese media industry, this paper teases out how intersecting cultural, economic and geopolitical power relations manifest in transnational creative labour working under the shadows of both the West and a rising China. Expanding on conceptions of emotional labour and precarity as serving neoliberal structures, I highlight how these producers’ experiences go beyond the economic connotations of precarity to capture what I call affective precarity – a felt sense of spatial-temporal dissonance confronting marginalized media workers. I also consider how such emotional labour can constitute a form of critique.