Alexandra Grey | Applied Linguistics Review
This article builds upon research which analyses the reconstruction of cities in China as an integral part of image-making discourses competing to attract mobile capital. It extends that literature beyond urban places to urbanisation processes, examining the material and linguistic features of networks and discourses of new high-speed rail infrastructure Guangxi, a poorer, rural, multilingual and multiethnic region of the People’s Republic of China (China) in which tourism – propelled by high-speed trains – has become a pillar of economic development. It argues that these trains produce symbolically powerful discourses which contribute to cultural urbanisation across Guangxi, emplacing urban norms outside city limits in pursuit of profitable sameness, as tourism does not trade only upon difference. Local multilingualism, specifically, is erased as too different, a barrier to tourists’ (and tourism capital’s) mobility. Amongst other ramifications, this reproduces social distance and ideologically displaces local languages.