Richang: An Affect-Inflected Ethnography of Chinese Livestreams

In: Asiascape: Digital Asia
Ge Zhang College of Media and International Culture, Zhejiang University

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I tracked one Chinese livestreaming platform Douyu from its emergence as experimental subsidiary of a Video on Demand platform in 2013 to its status as an ordinary medium of mass entertainment in 2018. This affect-inflected ethnography is written based on participant observation of three channels on Douyu as I exhibit the microcontexts of each channel in chronicles of affective events, long pauses of silence, repetitive and incoherent dialogues, asymmetrical debates, and sporadic moments of emotional meltdown. This ethnographic writing is a contact zone, a provocation, and, by proxy, a dialogue between academic theories (especially from television studies), user practices, and my informants’ own attempts at theorising how and what livestream feels and means for them.

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