Uniform TitleNation, ethnicity, and cultural strategies: three waves of ethnic representation in post-1949 China.
NameChen, Jie (author), Wang, Ban (chair), Schein, Louisa (internal member), Tschanz, Dietrich (internal member), Mi, Jiayan (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
DescriptionThis dissertation examines three waves of ethnic minority representation in post-1949 China. Reading ethnic representation as a discursive site where historical imperatives and utopian visions converge and collide, this study explicates how the modern Chinese national identity has been constructed and reconstructed through the imagining and staging of a putative rejuvenating internal other. During three historical periods in particular, ethnic minority images were appropriated extensively by intellectuals and artists as remedial forces to alleviate national identity anxiety: the 17-year-period (1949-1966), the post-Mao decade (1979-1989), and the contemporary decade (late 1990s to 2008). In each of the three waves, this study demonstrates, the image of ethnic minorities functioned as a sign of alterity and adopted different meanings and connotations -- ranging from national unity, exotic romanticism, traditional harmony, tenacity, and strength to eco-wisdom -- in response to the changing content of the national identity anxiety.
Contesting various binary power models (majority/minority, state/people, repression/resistance) dominant in existing studies of ethnic representation of the PRC, this dissertation argues, through textual and contextual readings of selected cinematic, art, and literary texts, that the production of ethnic representation is a fluid and historically contingent process of identity enunciation carried out by varied intellectuals and artists, who engaged in a variety of relations with the state and the general public. Whereas this process did produce a plethora of essentialist perceptions of ethnic minorities in China, and such perceptions often fed into further intellectual and aesthetic fascination with the image of the internal other, national identity construction -- rather than ethnic differentiation -- was at the root of the three waves of ethnic representation. Employing an interdisciplinary approach that integrates political and intellectual history into synchronic cultural and textual analyses, this study demonstrates how the Chinese imaginary of the internal other has been contingent upon the nation's struggle to position and "produce" itself in relation to a superior external world. In this sense, ethnic representation in China has been and continues to be performative enunciation of a modern national identity that negotiates between reconceptualizations of internal and global relationships.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 222-233).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.