Writing this essay was a challenge, not only because I want to situate the film more broadly within scholarly conversations about tourism, rural social transformations, and contemporary understandings of ethnicity in China and elsewhere, but also because I still have trouble "detaching" myself from the personal stories and everyday details of life in Ping'an and Upper Jidao villages. This is what I try to get at in the final paragraphs of the essay -- the difficulties and necessity of positing more general, or generalizable, questions through ethnographic research, writing, and filmmaking. Increasingly, I'm convinced that the only way to do this is to do more of all of these things: to make films about research, to write about films, and to think more critically about how we write and how we film.
And on a related, but tangential note, I am now serving as the chair of the 2014 David Plath Media Award committee and I'm excited to see what new media/visual projects are out there in East Asian anthropology! Submissions are welcome until the deadline of May 1, 2014. For details, visit the Award page here.