In the Age of Environmental Challenge
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU
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This book originated from a panel on “New Chinese Ecocinema and Ethics of Environmental Imagination” that we organized for the annual convention of the Association for Asian Studies in Boston, March 2007. However, the conceptualization of the details and the final materialization of the project as a whole result from...
List of Contributors
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Following the economic boom in the post-Mao-Deng and late socialist era, China is now facing unprecedented environmental crises. Although Chinese cinema has given consistent attention to the grave ecological deterioration in this part of the planet, scholarly study of ecological consciousness in Chinese films has been largely...
Part I. Hydro-Politics: Water, River, and National Trauma
1. Framing Ambient Unheimlich: Ecoggedon, Ecological Unconscious, and Water Pathology in New Chinese Cinema
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The above epigraph is taken from the well-known poem “Dead Water” (Sishui), written in 1925 by Wen Yiduo, a precursor of modern Chinese poetry, just after he had returned from his studies in America to a China torn by civil war. In this poem Wen expresses poignantly his anger, despair, and hopelessness over China’s...
2. Gorgeous Three Gorges at Last Sight: Cinematic Remembrance and the Dialectic of Modernization
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Her lover Luo Ming asks who has changed her. She answers: “Balzac.” Despite Honoré de Balzac’s antimodern inclinations and his nostalgia for the past, to the Chinese readers who were lucky enough to have access to his books, he represented the Other of the backward, enclosed, repressed life in the last years of...
3. Submerged Ecology and Depth Psychology in Wushan yunyu: Aesthetic Insight into National Development
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The Three Gorges Dam project continues to generate debate among scholars, journalists, government officials, environmentalists, developers, and others. The magnitude of the project staggers the imagination: at a cost of over 20 billion dollars, it will be the largest and most expensive dam ever known;2 several million people...
4. Floating Consciousness: The Cinematic Confluence of Ecological Aesthetics in Suzhou River
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The astonishing critical and commercial success of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (2006) has revealed to an unprecedented degree the potential power of uniting cinema and ecological thought. In addition to boosting popular environmental awareness and activism globally, this film has helped open a significant space...
Part II. Eco-Aesthetics, Heteroscape, and Manufactured Landscape
5. The Idea-Image:Conceptualizing Landscape in Recent Martial Arts Movies
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In the famous birch forest scene in the martial arts film Hero (Yingxiong, Zhang Yimou, 2002), two women warriors dressed in red fight among golden autumn leaves. Moon says that she will kill Flying Snow to avenge the death of her warrior master. She leaps high above the forest and dives with drawn sword towards Flying...
6. Façades: The New Beijing and the Unsettled Ecology of Jia Zhangke’s The World
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For many, the cute nine-year-old Lin Miaoke, who lip-synched to the lovely voice of seven-year-old Yang Peiyi (Figure 6.1), encapsulated the story of the Beijing Olympics ceremonies. Instigated by a member of the Communist Party Politburo in the name of “national interest” to project a “flawless image” of the nation...
7. Ruins and Grassroots: Jia Zhangke’s Cinematic Discontents in the Age of Globalization
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Produced at a time when China was being swept deeper and deeper into the currents of globalization, Jia Zhangke’s films can be viewed today almost as an impossible effort to arrest that flow, as at once a cinematic reconstruction, a comment, and an intervention toward that very historical process. They can be taken simultaneously...
Part III. Urban Space in Production and Disappearance
8. Of Humans and Nature in Documentary:The Logic of Capital in West of the Tracks and Blind Shaft
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The deteriorating natural environment in China has gripped the attention of social scientists, humanists, and observers. Some blame environmental disasters on China’s runaway economic growth, industrialization, and unregulated manufacturing practices. In the single-minded pursuit of growth and productivity, pollutants dumped...
9. Toward a Hong Kong Ecocinema: The Dis-appearance of “Nature” in Three Films by Fruit Chan
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On November 10, 2006, the International Herald Tribune published an article titled “Not even HK’s storied Star Ferry can face down developers.”1 The article referred to the Hong Kong government’s plan to demolish the historic Star Ferry terminal to create space for an expressway and a shopping mall. Concerned citizens, urban...
10. A City of Disappearance:Trauma, Displacement, and Spectral Cityscape in Contemporary Chinese Cinema
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China has been undergoing enormous changes since the social and economic reforms unleashed by Deng Xiaoping. These changes are represented in various spaces, the most noticeable of which is cityscape, which has been commercialized, monumentalized, and globalized. This chapter will relate Henri Lefebvre’s space...
Part IV. Bioethics, Non-Anthropocentrism, and Green Sovereignty
11. In the Face of Developmental Ruins: Place Attachment and Its Ethical Claims
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Like ecocriticism, ecocinema asserts its ethical claim. Yet how it does so in the context of China’s environmentalism remains intriguing and disputable. Facing the sound and fury of China’s urbanizing and market-driven economic boom, whatever sociological and cultural roles ecocinema can play must at once help China press...
12. Ning Hao’s Incense: A Curious Tale of Earthly Buddhism
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In summer 2006, Crazy Stone, a low-budget black comedy directed by Ning Hao, was an enormous success in China’s domestic movie market and “an unlikely mainland hit” which “even brushed aside” Hollywood blockbusters such as Superman Returns and Mission: Impossible III released in the country at that time.1 China Daily the...
13. Putting Back the Animals: Woman-Animal Meme in Contemporary Taiwanese Ecofeminist Imagination
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The invisibility of nonhuman animals (except pets) in our post-industrial society and our indifference to animal suffering reveal much about humanity as a species in relation to the current environmental crisis.1 Our stubborn negligence is a powerful defense mechanism when facing daily life encounters with animals either at the...
14. “Reconstructing the God-Fearing Community”: Filming Tibet in the Twenty-First Century
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Since the turn of the new millennium, Tibet has been a popular filming location for Chinese filmmakers of all stripes — mainstream or independent, commercial or art house, fiction or documentary. In part because of environmental issues and energy problems that have snowballed in China since the 1990s, Tibet, located far away...
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Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 67 b/w images
Publication Year: 2009