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农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness depicts the everyday experience of “doing tourism” (搞旅游) in two rural ethnic tourism villages in contemporary China: Ping’an in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Upper Jidao in Guizhou province. In these villages, residents negotiate between the day-to-day consequences of tourist arrivals and idealized projections of who they are. Questions of “authenticity” are rendered secondary to, yet not entirely subsumed by, market imperatives. Culture and identity remain important for sustaining community, but in ways that reveal just how much labor goes into creating leisure experiences.
The film was produced as part of a larger anthropological research project on tourism, ethnic identity, and rural social transformation in China today (see my book and other publications). Various scenes, a rough cut, and the final film were screened in both Ping’an and Upper Jidao villages on multiple occasions.
REVIEWS: "Chio's film is a gentle, and thought-provoking, excursion into the ordinary life of tourism. It is accessible to non-China specialists, addressing as it does the key issues of tourism development in general." Visual Anthropology Review 30(1): 79-81, reviewed by Laurie Kain Hart.
"[农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness] provides us with a rich and vivid account of the challenges of developing and sustaining rural tourism from the vantage point of rural communities. It provides students with a contemporary view of rural China, which in the southwest is characterized by the commodification of ethnicity and striking economic polarization between China’s urban and rural residents." American Anthropologist 115(3): 507-509, reviewed by Emily Chao.
"...the film opens a whole range of important questions to be further discussed, debated, and reflected upon. Therefore, I strongly recommend it to an audience and students who are interested in indigenous responses to and consequences of tourism development, as well as in ethnicity and rural development in China." Pacific Affairs (2016), reviewed by Tenzin Jinba.
SCREENINGS: -Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Indiana University, April 19, 2017 -SOAS, University of London, UK, March 15, 2017 -Cambridge University, UK, November 1, 2016 -2016 Ethnographic Film Festival "Kratovo," September 30, 2016 -Cultural Anthropology Screening Room (online), March 11-25, 2016 -USC/RAI Ethnographic Film Festival, Special Session "China Displaced," University of Southern California, March 5, 2016; -Chinese Environmental Film Festival, Furman University, February 27, 2015 -Department of History and Center for East Asian Studies, Stanford University, CA; February 20, 2015 -Guangxi International Ethnographic Film Festival, Nanning, November 2014 -Tourism Studies Working Group, UC Berkeley, October 24, 2014 -Society for Applied Anthropology Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, NM; March 22, 2014 -Macalester College, Minneapolis, MN; December 9, 2013 -International Society for Ethnology and Folklore Congress Film Programme, Tartu, Estonia; July 1, 2013 -London School of Economics, London, UK; June 4, 2013 -University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; April, 2013 -Emory University, Atlanta, GA; March 18, 2013 -Duke University, Durham, NC; February 28, 2013 -Society for Visual Anthropology Film and Media Festival, San Francisco, CA; November 14, 2012 -"Forbidden No More: The New China in Ethnographic Film," Haverford College, PA; February 25, 2012
This student film aims at re-presenting the presentation of minority nationality groups in the People's Republic of China. The source material is a series of historic ethnographic films dating from 1957-1966. The film reformulates the process of representation, manipulating the film images and sounds in order to produce a multifaceted understanding of ethnicity in China, the visualization of knowledge, and the imagining of a nation.
The film was produced as part of the MA Visual Anthropology program at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Financial support for the film was generously provided by the Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths College, and the former Institute for Knowledge and Media (IWF), Göttingen, Germany.
The historic ethnographic films from China are now held at the German National Library of Science and Technology, University Library Hannover.
SCREENINGS: -Royal Anthropological Institute International Film Festival, Oxford UK; September 20, 2005 (PDF program)
-Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival, Göttingen, Germany; May 20, 2004 (PDF program)
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