"It's a Problem with the System": Cultural Work, State Responsibility and Organizational Reform in the People's Republic of China

Emily Wilcox, Doctoral Candidate, Joint Program in Medical Anthropology,UC Berkeley/UC San Francisco

In the first decades of the twenty-first century, a process known as "system reform" is transforming China's culture industries. Formerly state-owned, state-sponsored arts and culture institutions are being remade into commercial arts and culture corporations, producing new, often experimental, formations of patronage, aesthetics, labor and livelihood. These formations include new models of state responsibility, specifically a shift from benefactor to client. The common adage "It's a problem with the system" suggests that even as the state retreats from Mao-era roles of planner and patron (ostensibly to be replaced by "the market"), however, the state is still ultimately held responsible for results of system reform. Taking the Chongqing Municipal Song and Dance Troupe (as of 2005, the Chongqing Song and Dance Troupe Limited Responsibility Corporation), as a case study, this talk examines the micro-processes of China's current reforms and their consequences.

Emily Wilcox is a Doctoral Candidate in the Joint Program in Medical Anthropology at UC Berkeley/UCSF. Her research areas include anthropology, China, aesthetics, critical studies of the body and health, and post/socialist societies. Selected publications include "Dance as l'Intervention: Health and Aesthetics of Experience in French Contemporary Dance," Body and Society (Sage) and "'An Ancient Subtle Energy Healing Art and Science for Today's Lifestyle': Qigong and the Problem of the Non-Modern Global Form, Kroeber Anthropology Society Papers (Berkeley). Her dissertation project is entitled Dance Lives: Cultural Work and the Virtuosic Subject in Socialist China.

Monday, May 17, 2010 | 12:00 pm — 1:15 pm
Building 50 - Room 51A Conference Room, Main Quad