In his autobiography, Malcolm X recounts his 1964 visit to Ghana, where he attended a state dinner hosted by Chinese Ambassador Huang Hua. The event featured films from China and Algeria that celebrated Chinese socialist achievements, supported Afro-American movements, and depicted the Algerian anti-colonial struggle. This highlights the role of films as vehicles of political thought and cultural diplomacy during the Cold War, illustrating their transnational journeys and the shared political visions linking Africans, African-Americans, and the Chinese.

Ling Zhang's second book project, “Sounding Wayward Journeys: Traveling Film and Media in China and the World, 1949-1989,” investigates these transcultural and cross-medial journeys and their wider cultural and political resonances. This manuscript emphasizes the significance of cultural diplomacy in travel-themed films by tracing the transnational journeys of various audiovisual media through a sound studies perspective. It explores films and other media forms featuring travel motifs by Chinese and international filmmakers, musicians, and artists, examining the transmission of sounds, images, and ideas across and beyond China from local, national, regional, and global perspectives.

The study delves into the translation, dubbing, exhibition, and criticism of films from Asia, Africa, and Latin America shown in China during this period. Given that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had limited diplomatic relations with most West European and American nations until 1971, the book highlights how diverse media—including film, art exhibitions, literary translations, radio broadcasts, and performing arts—advanced a “people's diplomacy.” It underscores how sounds, facilitated by media infrastructures and technologies like radio stations, the record industry, and dubbing studios, transcended cultural and geopolitical boundaries through audiovisual mass media.

“Sounding Wayward Journeys” adopts an interdisciplinary and transcultural approach, leveraging cross-medial sound studies to illuminate underexplored cinematic and cultural phenomena of the Cold War era. The book examines the interplay of sound, technology, aesthetics, and geopolitics through meticulous analysis of cinematic and media texts, historical events, and production activities. Drawing from archival materials, memoirs, interviews, and close textual analysis, it argues that understanding transcultural journeys is crucial to recognizing the influence of internationalism and cosmopolitanism on both China and the global landscape in the twentieth century, and their continued resonance.

The book also highlights contributions by cultural figures such as Paul Robeson, Shirley MacLaine, Claudia Weill, Joris Ivens, Chris Marker, Ousmane Sembène, and José Venturelli. By linking these objects, events, and practices, the study underscores the transformative impact of transnational cinematic and media exchanges in fostering Third World solidarity and various geopolitical alliances. “Sounding Wayward Journeys” traces the nuanced dynamics of film and media exchanges among socialist China, the Global South, and beyond during the Cold War era. Its global lens expands the conventional scope of Asian studies and cinema and media studies, offering insights into media practices distinct from capitalist globalization models, and deepening our understanding of alternative media flows and their role in enhancing human connections.