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Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 1011-2006
Published by Revues.org [400 journals]
- Sentinels for the Environment
Authors: Frédéric Keck
Abstract: This article compares the modes of organisation and engagement of birdwatching societies in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Tracing their origins to American, Japanese, and British models of nature conservation, it shows the growing involvement of Chinese citizens in the observation and protection of birds. Asking how birds can be used as “flagship species” to hold together environmental movements in a sustainable and constructive way, the article proposes the concept of “sentinel” to capture the mix of democratic environmental concern and a military model of territory mapping.
- Remembering the Age of Iron
Authors: Wanning Sun
Abstract: Over the past few years we have witnessed a minor cultural phenomenon in China, with the production and enthusiastic reception nationwide of several television dramas about Chinese workers in the socialist decades. Set in the industrial plants of Liaoning in China’s northeast, once the industrial powerhouse of the socialist nation, these drama series centre on the dramatic transformation in workers’ experiences from 1949 to the start of economic reforms. In this paper I explore these series, asking: what does the smallscale production but enthusiastic reception of this genre tell us about the contemporary cultural politics of class? This paper addresses this question by (1) highlighting the key aspects of workers’ experiences with socialism as depicted in these television narratives; (2) considering the creative agenda of Gao Mantang, the script writer of the most successful industrial-themed television series; and (3) identifying some crucial ways in which the subjectivity of worke...
- Reconfiguring Red
Authors: Rosemary Roberts
Abstract: This paper uses a case study of the 2006 TV series remake of the Maoist classic The Red Detachment of Women to examine the way the reproduction of the Red Classics in the reform era has functioned to maintain Party foundation myths that validate and morally legitimise its continued rule while accommodating a major shift in class politics in Chinese society. By tracing the change in the identity of the central hero, Hong Changqing, from working class child labourer and son of an ordinary seaman to a middle class, wealthy, overseas Chinese with family origins in the local gentry, the paper argues that the TV series functions to consolidate the symbiotic relationship between the Party and China’s new middle class, while promoting a consumer lifestyle and consigning the working class to the margins of social and political power.
- Masters of the Nation
Authors: Qian Gong
Abstract: Cinema, an extremely popular and useful cultural form during the Maoist era, played a big role in shaping working class subjectivity. This article argues that despite their highly politicised and formalised content, industrial-themed films made during the Cultural Revolution created a “masters of the nation” subjectivity that still resonates with workers who grew up watching these films. In doing so, this article brings together two bodies of scholarship that rarely make reference to one another: filmmaking in the Cultural Revolution period and post-Mao workers’ subjectivity. Post-Mao scholarship has gone beyond simply dismissing films from the Cultural Revolution period as crude propaganda designed to create a highly politicised mass mind. It has drawn our attention to the more complicated nature of this body of filmmaking, particularly the “model play” films. However, new features made during the Cultural Revolution are often seen as “too ideological” to warrant academic attention...
- Han Dongfang (in collaboration with Michaël Sztanke), Mon combat pour les
ouvriers chinois (My struggle for Chinese workers),
Authors: Chloé Froissart
Abstract: Published in 2014 to mark the 20th anniversary of China Labour Bulletin (CLB), the book is based on interviews that French journalist Michaël Sztanke carried out with Han Dongfang, the prominent Chinese labour activist and founder of the Hong Kong-based CLB. Presented as a first person account organised chronologically as well as thematically, the book is divided into two parts: the personal journey of Han Dongfang (first five chapters), and CLB’s activism (the following six). The first part retraces the formation of a political consciousness right from adolescence, the time when Han joined the army before being employed as a railway worker, his participation in the 1989 Democracy Movement in Beijing and the creation of the first workers’ autonomous federation, whose spokesman he became; imprisonment for 22 months, illness, his stay in the United States and the impossibility of returning to China. It lays stress on key figures and events that have informed this consciousness: his pe...
- Felix Wemheuer, Famine Politics in Maoist China and the Soviet Union,
Authors: Lucien Bianco
Abstract: After seeing the extent to which the famine remained one of the most terrible periods in the lives of peasants he interviewed in the Henan Province, a young German sinologist (born in 1977) carried out over a decade of research into the Great Leap Forward. This resulted in a number of works focusing on the famine, including the present comparison between the famine of 1959-1962 and that which hit the USSR. Such a comparison is relevant not only because of the similarities between the two revolutionary regimes, but also because more than 80% of the world’s famine victims in the twentieth century died in these two countries. The structure is not the most satisfactory aspect of this good book. Excluding the third part (Chapters 5 to 7), which is dedicated to Ukraine and Tibet, the comparison between the Soviet and Chinese famines is covered essentially in the first part (Chapters 1 and 2). The second part, which covers only China, takes up and develops the themes introduced in the first...
- Ernest P. Young, Ecclesiastical Colony: China’s Catholic Church and the
French Religious Protectorate,
Authors: Pierre Vendassi
Abstract: Ernest P. Young’s book considers “the conjuncture of the catholic immersion in imperialism as it developed in the nineteenth century in China and the struggle within the church against that linkage in the first decades of the twentieth century” (p. 1). It seeks to explain how, following a growth period in the first half of the nineteenth century, the Catholic Church faced growing hostility in the subsequent decades, the most emblematic manifestation of it being the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. Rejecting cultural explanations of a clash of civilisations, the author admits, as other scholars have done, that “the dependency of the Christian missions on the unequal treaties” (p. 8), leading to an assimilation of the religious project into an imperialist political one, was an essential part of the problem. He also offers an institutional dimension to the explanation: the installation, in the framework of unequal treaties, of a French religious protectorate, through which France acted as the ...
- John Osburg, Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China’s New
Authors: Émilie Tran
Abstract: John Osburg’s work was published at a time when China was engaging in an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign targeting “tigers and flies.” A far cry from the media headlines trumpeting the fall of the latest tiger, Anxious Wealth is an ethnography of the world of the “flies,” and in particular entrepreneurs, in China. Based on a field study he carried out in Chengdu, the author sheds light on the habitus of the entrepreneurs with whom he spent time in the capital of Sichuan. The introductory chapter duly defines the subject of the research and sets out the inherent theoretical framework. Taking the concepts of networks and guanxi as the starting point, the author proposes a closer examination of human relations, whether based on shared interests or defined by the roles assumed by men and women, finally exploring corruption and the state. Each of the four subsequent chapters looks at specific aspects of these relations, thus helping to define, over the course of the book, the habit...
- Ya-Chung Chuang, Democracy on Trial: Social movements and cultural
politics in postauthoritarian Taiwan,
Authors: Gunter Schubert
Abstract: The “Sunflower Movement” of spring 2014 has re-activated much scholarly interest in the world of Taiwan’s social movements, which had somewhat declined over recent years. Ya-Chung Chuang’s book, although published before the events leading to the occupation of the Legislative Yuan last year, is therefore timely. One of its major intentions is to highlight the importance of a vital civil society and self-confident social movements for a stable and healthy Taiwanese democracy. Chuang is an anthropologist (teaching at Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University), and he has written, as he notes himself, an anthropology of Taiwan’s democracy by looking at the relationship between state and civil society (Part I), identity and ethnicity (Part II), and place and politics (Part III). The six Chapters deal with topics covering a wide range of issues that the author has investigated since his days as a young researcher doing ethnographic studies in downtown Taipei. In Chapter One, he looks back ...
- Christophe Falin, Shanghai – Hong Kong, villes de cinéma (Shanghai –
Hong Kong, cities of cinema),
Authors: Luisa Prudentino
Abstract: This work is dedicated to Shanghai and Hong Kong, two cities that occupy a mythical position in the eyes of the West and in Chinese cinema as, respectively, the birthplace of the industry in China and the place where it developed. Through their dual material and symbolic significance, the two cities continue to contribute to the history of cinema to this day. The author has divided the book into three sections. The first is given over to the history of Chinese cinema in the two cities, and in particular to the exchanges that took place between the two over the course of the twentieth century. In this section, Christophe Falin reveals the major events that resulted in these exchanges, from the birth of sound film to the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, also observing the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and the Communist victory of 1949. This section also includes an interesting paragraph concerning the mixing of Chinese cinema in the 1950s, resulting from the creation of two flag...