Competing Constructions of Chinese Identity at the Turn of the

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					  Competing Constructions of Chinese
Identity at the Turn of the 21st Century

 Wenshan Jia, Ph. D., Chair, Associate Professor
 Department of Communication Studies
 Chapman University California, U.S.A

• What self-image should China present herself on
  the stage of the 29th Olympic Games?

• What kind of identity should China remake in
  the deepening phase of globalization using the
  29th Olympic Games as the major instrument?
Historical Background
• Canton and Minority Groups
• Opium War= Sinocentrism was shattered.
• Redefinition
 ▫ Westernization
 ▫ Cultural Nationalism
 ▫ Self-Strengthening Movement/ Empowerment
Historical Background II
• 1950s to 1960s: Socialism
• 1970s: Change of Direction
• 1980s: Socialism vs. Political/Economic
• 1992: Deng Xiaoping =Embrace Economic
• 1990s: Genuine Capitalist-Globalist
• 21st Century: Sino-Centric Globalization
Theoretical Framework

• Framework Based on Mary Jane Collier’s
  identity negotiation theory (2006) and Young
  Yun Kim’s intercultural personhood theory
• Ethnographic Research for the Past Two
 ▫ China’s Preparation to Bid for the Right to Host
   the 19th Olympic Games.
 ▫ China’s Preparation for the 19th Olympic Games.
 ▫ Fieldwork and Observations:
       Eve of Opening Games, Opening Ceremony, Rehearsal of the Games, News
       and Blogs for the past 20 years, CCTV, people’s Daily, Xinhua Sohu, Beijing
       Olympic Games Committee Official Website, DuoWei News, Omnitalk, New
       York Times, News Week, Los Angeles Times, Traveling to China for four
       summers consecutively, Bohai Sea Circle, Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River
Three Streams of the Beijing Olympic
Games Discourses
• The Construction and Reconstruction of the
  Chinese Identity
 ▫ Into three shapes by three different groups using
   the 19th Olympic Games.
 ▫ What a Chinese Is and Should Be:
    Globalist Discourse
    Localist Discourse
    Glocalist/ Intercultural Discourse
Globalist Discourse
• Produced by emerging entrepreneurs, West-
  trained Chinese professional elites, white-collar
  workers and liberal sector of the Third
  Generation of CCP Leadership
• “Yu Guoji Jiegui,” Getting connected with the
  international track.
 ▫ Effort to adopt the globally received rules.
• Jiang Zeming’s “three represents” theory
 ▫ Having CCP represent the most advanced culture.
Globalist Discourse Cont.
• Jiang Zeming’s effort to westernize and speak
• Shanghai’s imitation of Times Square in NYC
• Hangzhou’s replica of the White House
• Jiang’s love for Italian Opera created inventive to
  build the Grand Theatre near Tiananmen Square
• Western Avant Garde Architects built the Bird Nest,
  Water Tube, new CCTV Tower, New Beijing
  International Airport
• Liberalism becoming mainstream
Localist Discourse
• Reverse Globalization
• Tu Weiming’s concept of “cultural China”
• Establishment of 250 Confucian academies
  around the world
• Information sovereignty and Cultural security
• Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao Administration
  stopped using Jiang’s “three represent” theory
 ▫ Reverting to native Chinese concepts
   - Hu’s “Yi Ren Wei Ben,” dating back 2000 years.
Localist Discourse Cont.
• Societal Level: campaign to boycott English-only
• Move to remove Starbucks from the Forbidden
• Movement to request Chinese athletes to wear
  Han Dynasty styles of clothing
• Opening Ceremony’s ethnocentricity
• Wen Jiabao’s affirmation of the universal human
  values were attacked by some nationalistic
Glocalist/Intercultural Discourse
Most Sparse
• Leading Spokesman: Wu Jianmin, former
  Ambassador to France
  ▫ Intercultural Communication between countries
• Jia Yuxin and Hu Wenzhong created China
  Association for Intercultural Communication some
  ten years ago
• Intercultural Communication Research Centers
  created at Peking University, Shanghai International
  Studies University and others.
• Inclusive and Integrative Discourse
• Closest to reality
Comparative Analysis
• Globalist Dicourse: “Look, I am trying to become
  you and even more than who you are.”
• Localist Discourse: “Come on! Let’s recover the
  glory of who we have been in history!” “Don’t try
  to be who you are not and who you have not
• Glocalist/ Intercultural Discourse: “Let’s try to
  stay both who we have been and become who
  you have been.” “ This way can both become
  much more.”
• Globalist and Localist Discourses result of
  dichotomous world views rooted in analytical
  philosophy in modern West.
• More inclusive and dialectic view rooted in
  Glocalist/Intercultural Discourse would benefit
  China in the Long run.
• Interculturalor Hybridized Cultural Identitiy for
• References:
 ▫   Chen, B. (2003)
 ▫   Collier, M. J. (2006)
 ▫   Kim, Y.Y. (2006)
 ▫   SCOL (2006, 12).
 ▫   Tu, W. (2005)

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