"Ethnic Festival Boost Tourism in Rural China"
"A Close Look at Tourism's Impact in Rural China"
Emory eScienceCommons, 2014
Chinese Rural Tourism
Interview on BBC World News "Impact"
aired June 5, 2013 (watch above)
"No Early Harvest In China's Rural Tourism Push"
by Ben Blanchard, Reuters 2007
For details on my recent talks and conference papers,
visit the NEWS page.
I am a cultural anthropologist and ethnographic filmmaker. In my research and teaching, I explore the intersections of subjectivity, collective memory, and modernity, with a particular emphasis on understanding the shifting contours of race, ethnicity, and cultural heritage as powerful categories in the contemporary world. I explore these issues through long-term ethnographic fieldwork on independent and vernacular media practices, urbanization and the transformation of rural landscapes and livelihoods, and cultural heritage tourism in the People's Republic of China.
I am Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Emory University, and I am Co-Editor of Visual Anthropology Review, the journal of the Society for Visual Anthropology. From October 2016 to July 2017, I am a Fellow at the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies at the University of Cologne, Germany. In 2015, I was a Visiting Assistant Researcher in Anthropology at UCLA.
I hold a PhD in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley (2009). My dissertation training focused on critical tourism studies, migration and citizenship, contemporary Chinese society, and visual culture. From 2009-2012, I was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the China Research Centre, University of Technology Sydney, where I worked on Chinese media studies. I also hold a MA in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths College, University of London (2003).
My first book, A Landscape of Travel: The Work of Tourism in Rural Ethnic China (University of Washington Press, 2014), utilizes mobility and visuality as analytics for exploring the consequences of tourism development on social relations and individual senses of self in two rural, ethnic minority Chinese villages. In addition to my book, I directed and produced a film about tourism in the villages I study, 农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness. The film is distributed by Berkeley Media, LLC and has been screened widely at universities and anthropological film festivals.
Currently, I am engaged in a multi-sited research project on the lived experience of modernity in China's countryside through an ethnographic exploration of locally made amateur and semi-professional documentary videos. Vernacular media of this kind are ubiquitous across much of rural ethnic China. Many rural filmmakers participate in state and international community media training programs in addition to producing videos for local markets. My research on rural vernacular media, thus far, has led me to investigate the intersections between development, media literacy, modernization processes, the politics of participation, and new imaginations of rural modernity and contemporary ethnic subjectivity in China today.
Alongside my research on rural media I am also working on a second ethnographic film that is a portrait of two women in Upper Jidao village who have been integral interlocutors in my fieldwork and research for over a decade. In February 2017, I gave a public lecture on this film-in-progress as part of my fellowship at the University of Cologne; an audio recording of my talk is now online. Finally, I am interested in Chinese independent documentary film and film festivals, and I have published on the (now-defunct) Yunnan Multi Culture Visual Festival (Yunfest).
In the profession, I have served as an elected board member of the Society for Visual Anthropology, a section of the American Anthropological Association. I co-directed the SVA Film and Media Festival in 2013 and 2014, and served on the festival jury from 2014 to 2016. This has been an amazing opportunity to see the innovative range of ethnographic media being produced around the world and to help bring some well-deserved attention to this field of scholarship and inquiry.