December 2, 2008 - 12:00pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor
Wuduo jinhua (Five Golden Flowers, Wang Jiayi, 1959) is a popular film from the PRC's 17-year-period (1949-1966) and a quintessential example of China's ethnic minority film (shaoshu minzu dianying) genre. A romantic comedy that focuses on the Bai ethic group in China's Yunnan province, this film epitomizes many characteristics associated with the genre: beautiful actresses, exotic costume, romantic love, melodic folk songs, and scenic landscape. These "colorful" traits are often cited as evidence of the Chinese nation-state's exoticization of its ethnic minorities: traces of a kind of internal Orientalism, so to speak. This compartmentalized view of ethnicity and nation is misleading. Contesting this view, Chen argues that the visualization of China's ethnic minority groups in films like Wuduo jinhua participates in a discursive nation-building project, in which "the local" gets constructed and appropriated, be it minority ethnicity, the folk, or women. As this nation-building project is contingent upon a modern global imagination, the emphasis on local flavor should not be considered separately from Chinese intellectuals' universalist utopian aspiration or the reconfiguration of the global geopolitical order during the modern era. Along this line, my reading of Wuduo jinhua examines its gendered visual politics, its contribution to the development of minzu fengge (national style), and its international distribution, and thereby lays bare the dialectical relationship between the reconceptualization of the local and the global during China's 17-year-period. Chen Jie received her PhD in Comparative Literature from Rutgers University in 2008. Her research interests include philosophy, modern Chinese literature and film, nationalism, ethnic minority, and globalization. She is the author of NATION, ETHNICITY, AND CULTURAL STRATEGIES: THREE WAVES OF ETHNIC REPRESENTATION IN POST-1949 CHINA.
Free and Open to the public.
Center for East Asian Studies and the Division of Literatures, Cultures and Languages