Abstract

This essay critically examines the proliferating media artifacts and political discourses that dramatize China’s ownership of U.S. national debt in contemporary America. It argues that this new mode of representing China is best captured by the term “fiscal orientalism.” Complementing techno-orientalism, a configuration prompted by Japan’s (technological) rise in the 1980s, fiscal orientalism draws attention to the ideological work performed by a menacing “Chinese future.” Fiscal-orientalist narratives, by conjoining the time of the Other with the time of debt, racialize the effects of neoliberal financialization and perpetuate a historically specific form of indebted citizenship.

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