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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thesis question revisited

Had a good chat with the thesis supervisor today, and the central argument's unfolding nicely.

The original idea first -
"The Imagination of China by overseas Chinese - The producers of Chinese culture - Did they get it wrong by over-representing just the Hans as the Chinese Identity. The Hans dominated China and of course, wrote its history. Are there dormant waves of representing China hiding under the weight of mainstream modern, possibly Communist China. The extra-sino nationalism wave - overseas chinese and chinese students overseas - using ‘culture’ as a symbol of unity"


And the new...
There has been government control over the mediated media messages regarding China's attempts to establish a cultural centre following the cultural revolution in 1966 with an overarching slogan of "Smash the old world, establish a new world". This was centered around abolishing the Four Olds: Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. During this period cultural production was heavily skewed towards creating a socialist Utopian China.

Today, in light of the coming Beijing Olympics, China has taken control of its media vehicles with cultural production designed to place herself in a positive light. Two major blockbusters the USD$80 million "Red Cliff" and "Resurrection of the Dragon" both slated for release in 2008 coincidentally are stories on the Han dynasty, of whom the majority of Chinese are descended from.

This paper investigate if

1. This cultural centre has been essentially veered towards an over-representative Han culture. It is difficult to establish a homogenous cultural centre without ignoring and marginalising the other officially recognised 55 ethnic groups, and it seems the significance of this dominance is to be explored. Research will focus on how the Han culture came to be dominant, and will track its evolution from the Han dynasty (202 BC to 220 AD) to how it has become the world's biggest ethnic group today, numbering more than 1 billion.

2. The opening up of China's borders has resulted in an opposite flow of cultural influence, resulting in Chinese youths losing touch with their cultural roots. Inversely, the cultural production flowing out of China could be causing a rise in identifying with the Chinese race by the diasporic overseas-born Chinese. Note - It can also be argued if the Chinese identity today is the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. - question to self - how much of this should I tackle?

The flow of the paper will be as such

Part 1 - China unpackaged
Chapter 1 - History of China - Ancient -> Imperial -> Modern -> Republican -> PRC (People's Republic of China) today
Chapter 2 - Defining China - the many faces - the modern political entity, OR Chinese civilisation OR a Cultural Region OR National or Multi-Ethnic entity occupying large tracts of land in East Asia?
Chapter 3 - Background and aftermath of the Cultural Revolution circa 1966

Part 2 - Cultural Production in China Today post Olympic announcement
Chapter 4 - Significance of 2008 Olympics, and media / cultural production changes post announcement in 2001.
Chapter 5 - Case Studies - the films "Red Cliff" and "Resurrection of the Dragon"
Chapter 6 - Reception/Influence by/on Overseas-born Chinese from Singapore, UK and the US.
Chapter 7 - Deconstructing what effects these films have on overseas born Chinese in terms of their imagination of China.

Part 3 - Conclusion