Postmodern Signification and the Semiotics of Exile

  • Hong Zeng
Part of the Semiotics and Popular Culture book series (SEMPC)


Chapter 2 will examine postmodern signification as a facet of the semiotics of exile. Various aspects of postmodernism are conducive to the expression of exile. According to Jean Baudrillard, postmodernism, a product of mass production and commercialization, is characterized by the proliferation of consumption over production, the signifier in excess of the signified.1 Signifier is displaced from the signified, denoting the absence (instead of the presence) of reality, which thus underscores absent center. Floating signifiers displaced from the signified become simulacra. Absent center, disparity/separation, displacement, and simulacra in postmodern signification coincide with the semiotics of exile, which also indicates the loss of a center (geographical or spiritual home), separation, displacement, and the imaginary reconstruction of the lost homeland in the form of simulacra. Postmodernism is also associated with hybridity, which, together with a simulacrum and an absent center, can convey postcolonial exile—hybrid identity and identity crisis as the aftereffect of multiple colonization. Such hybrid identity of the colonized country often comes from the multiplied influence of the colonizers. To a certain extent, the colonized country becomes a simulacrum of the colonialist cultures, and thus suffers the loss of its own unique identity and underscores an identity crisis.


Cultural Revolution Identity Crisis Hybrid Identity Narrative Technique Chinese Identity 
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© Hong Zeng 2012

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  • Hong Zeng

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