Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Bernadette M. Calafell, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Roy Wood

Third Advisor

Darrin Hicks

Fourth Advisor

Margaret Thompson


Beijing Olympics, Chinese communication, Face, Harmony, Intercultural communication, Performance


This dissertation explores Chinese communication practices. I focus on the performance of intercultural communication and how the "New Face" of China was performed to the world and in day-to-day intercultural communication encounters during the 2008 Olympics. I analyze the Olympic Volunteer Training Manual as performative text as well as interviewed Beijing Olympic volunteers about their encounters with international visitors. Specifically, I discuss why the Olympics were a crucial moment for China to unveil its "New Face" to the world, what the "New Face" of China entails, and the reasons why China is in need of a new image on the world stage. I argue that we need to use Chinese concepts and conceptualizations to understand the cultural context, political climate, and deeply complex historical foundations China has when we question Chinese communication practices and performances. I reconceptualize the concept of face with Performance theory to show how the presentation of "New China" and the "New Face of China" during the Olympics was a performance based on "harmony" and the Confucian values of ren (humanism) and li (ritual propriety). Furthermore, I concentrate on how the "New Face" of China and harmony were actually performed by Olympic volunteers on the ground in both public and hidden transcripts. While the Volunteer Training Manual works to performatively generate an image of New China, volunteers on the ground doing intercultural communication that they had learned during training sessions also generated an image of China on the ground, contrary to images in the U.S. imaginary, and in day to day encounters. Although China went to great efforts to present China as a harmonious society, on the ground we see that within harmony there is difference (in communication, performance, and practice) and negotiation through the struggles of everyday life Chinese deal with. More importantly, we find new possibilities and yearnings for peaceful coexistence.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Patrick Shaou-Whea Dodge


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

191 p.


Communication, Asian studies, Mass communication