农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness (2013) has been selected for screening at the 2017 Heritales: International Heritage Film Festival in Évora, Portugal, which takes place September 21-23. This looks like an exciting festival that is coordinated by scholars at the University of Évora alongside support from UNESCO, and I'm really looking forward to attending the films and discussion. It's been really motivating for me to have folks in the cultural heritage and museum studies worlds interested in my work this year, particularly because the question of "heritage" is one that is opening a lot of necessary, and challenging, conversations about power, domination, and control. I think it's important to tackle these issues from multiple angles, so I'm glad to have this chance to share my work and think about different perspectives at the festival next month.
2017 has started with...a lot of work to do. Luckily, I have a few talks coming up to give me some motivation and focus on thinking through some of my arguments and ideas. Thanks to the department of Anthropology at SOAS, University of London, and the Asia Centre, University of Sussex, I'll be in the UK for a week giving three talks and screening my film -- I am really looking forward to this opportunities to work on and work out some of my current thoughts, and get some much needed input and feedback.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
University of Sussex Asia Centre Seminar
"Media and the Rural Modern: Participatory Video and Documentary as Development in Rural Ethnic China"
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Anthropology of Tourism and Travel Colloquium
SOAS, University of London
"Archetypes of Ethnicity: Architecture and Expectations in China's Ethnic Tourism"
Wednesday, March 15, 2017: Two events
SOAS, University of London
Department of Anthropology and Sociology
Ethnographic Film Series
Screening: 农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness
Anthropology Departmental Seminar
"A Yao Self, a Miao Portrait: Two Moments of Filmmaking in 'Minority' China"
Details on the exact location and time of the events can be viewed through the links, along with abstracts of my talks to be held at SOAS. More updates and images to come!
I recently gave a public talk on my ethnographic film-in-progess as part of the Morphomata Lecture series at the University of Cologne, Germany, where I am a Fellow for the 2016-2017 academic year. As the theme of the fellowship year is "Figures of Image Control," for the past semester we have been discussing questions of biography as representation, portraiture and human experience, and the differences between image-based and text-based modes of depicting, describing, and interpreting human experience. The interdisciplinary group of fellows, coming from fields as diverse as Ancient History, Classics, Archaeology, and Modern German Literature (as well as Anthropology), has motivated me to think more concretely and conceptually about the possibilities of portraiture in ethnographic research and film-making. My lecture addressed some of the methodological and theoretical issues I am working through as I develop my second ethnographic film project, which will be a portrait of two Miao women from Guizhou, China, and is currently titled "These Days, These Homes." An audio-recording of my talk is available online through the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies website.
Listen to my public lecture here [scroll down to "Audio Recordings"]
I came across this really generous and thoughtful review of my book, A Landscape of Travel, written by Zhen Wang, a visiting scholar at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, in Munich, Germany. I really appreciate Zhen's careful reading of the book, and the fact that she sees how the case studies of Upper Jidao and Ping'an villages speak to much wider and bigger changes happening across rural and ethnic minority regions of China. What I describe and analyze in these two villages is so much a part of a larger pattern and shift not only in the lives of village residents (who may or may not be interested in "doing tourism") but also in the way rural and ethnic identities are discussed and imagined throughout the country, by government officials, by tourism developments, and of course by rural and ethnic people themselves. It's really rewarding to see my research reaching scholars in disciplines other than anthropology too, and particularly to scholars in environmental studies because, as I try to show, tourism has everything to do with questions of landscape -- social and natural.
Thanks to the support and enthusiasm from Social Anthropology and the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge, I'll be screening my film for a class on visual cultural and anthropology, and giving two talks in early November there as part of the China Studies Seminar and the Cambridge University Social Anthropology Society [CUSAS] seminar series.
Details on each of the talks:
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
China Research Seminar
Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Title: The Festival Crowd: Ethnic Body Politics and Vernacular Media Practices in 'Minority' China
Thursday, November 3, 2016
Division of Social Anthropology
Title: Designing Development: Spectacle and Power in a Chinese Ethnic Tourism Village
Both of these talks are based on field research in Guizhou and ideas I've been working on recently, and I'm really looking forward to discussing them with China studies and anthropology audiences across the university.
A new review of my book, A Landscape of Travel: The Work of Tourism in Rural Ethnic China, is now out in the latest issue of American Anthropology (volume 118, issue 3), written by Yujie Zhu, a specialist on tourism and cultural heritage in China.
In his review, Zhu summarizes some of the central arguments of my work. He writes that in my analysis, "The integration of mobility and visuality adds texture and complexity to the question of how ethnic tourism becomes commonplace in the daily lives of Chinese ethnic minority villages....More importantly, tourism not only affects villagers as an impetus of economic development but also becomes a new form of culture that influences the local value system, expectations, and visions of life."
I am really grateful for the continued attention that my book is receiving from anthropologists, tourism scholars, and China studies scholars. Tourism as a form of development continues to be promoted throughout rural, ethnic minority regions of China, and it's vital to maintain a long-term research perspective on the impacts that tourism may have on local lives and livelihoods. Equally, I think it's critical to keep an eye open to the other, emerging opportunities and ambitions that rural ethnic Chinese villagers may want to pursue, particularly given the national push towards rural urbanization in many regions and changing patterns of labor migration throughout the country.
I learned today that my film, 农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness, has been selected for screening at the 2016 Ethnographic Film Festival "Kratovo," organized by the Macedonian Ethnological Society. The festival will take place at the end of September to early October in Macedonia, and the program features films by anthropology students and scholar-filmmakers from across Europe as well as overseas. Although I'm not able to attend the festival, I'm excited to be a part of the event and hope to be able to Skype in for q&a.
Later this year, I will be taking up a one year fellowship at the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies, at the University of Cologne, Germany. Naturally, I'm very excited and grateful for this opportunity to spend a dedicated year at a humanities-focused research center, where I'll be working on my next film project, "These Days, These Homes." Given that the theme of the research year will be life writing, biography, and portraiture, I look forward to dialogues and conversations with the other fellows about the processes and practices of representing life experience and life histories through visual arts, film, and/or text.
For a bit more information about the film project I'm working on, see my previous blog post here.
For two weeks, my film 农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness, can be watched online as a part of Cultural Anthropology's Screening Room (Visual and New Media Reviews). The feature also includes an extended interview, in which I talk about my fieldwork on ethnic tourism in rural China, and how I see filmmaking as a part of my ethnographic research and anthropological scholarship. Thanks go to Patricia Alvarez and Berkeley Media for making this happen -- it was a really productive opportunity for me to reflect on how ethnographic filmmaking as a process can inform, and ideally deepen, one's analysis and insights from fieldwork.
To watch the film and read the interview, CLICK HERE.
Visit my academia.edu page for a full list of past conference papers and other work.