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Cinema Approaching Reality

Locating Chinese Film Theory

Victor Fan

In Cinema Approaching Reality, Victor Fan brings together, for the first time, Chinese and Euro-American film theories and theorists to engage in critical debates about film in Shanghai and Hong Kong from the 1920s through 1940s. His point of departure is a term popularly employed by Chinese film critics during this period, bizhen, often translated as “lifelike” but best understood as “approaching reality.” What these Chinese theorists mean, in Fan’s reading, is that the cinematographic image is not a form of total reality, but it can allow spectators to apprehend an effect as though they had been there at the time when an event actually happened.

Fan suggests that the phrase “approaching reality” can help to renegotiate an aporia (blind spot) that influential French film critic André Bazin wrestled with: the cinematographic image is a trace of reality, yet reality is absent in the cinematographic image, and the cinema makes present this absence as it reactivates the passage of time. Fan enriches Bazinian cinematic ontology with discussions on cinematic reality in Republican China and colonial Hong Kong, putting Western theorists—from Bazin and Kracauer to Baudrillard, Agamben, and Deleuze—into dialogue with their Chinese counterparts. The result is an eye-opening exploration of the potentialities in approaching cinema anew, especially in the photographic materiality following its digital turn.

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City of Marvel and Transformation

Chang’an and Narratives of Experience in Tang Dynasty China

Linda Rui Feng

During the Tang dynasty, the imperial capital of Chang'an (present-day Xi'an) was unrivaled in its monumental scale, with about one million inhabitants dwelling within its walls. It was there that one of the most enduring cultural and political institutions of the empire—the civil service examinations—took shape, bringing an unprecedented influx of literati men to the city seeking recognition and official status by demonstrating their literary talent. To these examination candidates, Chang'an was a megalopolis, career launch pad, and most importantly, cultural paradigm. As a multifaceted lived space, it captured the imaginations of Tang writers, shaped their future aspirations, and left discernible traces in the writings of this period. City of Marvel and Transformation brings this cityscape to life together with the mindscape of its sojourner-writers. By analyzing narratives of experience with a distinctive metropolitan consciousness, it retrieves lost connections between senses of the self and a sense of place. Each chapter takes up one of the powerful shaping forces of Chang'an: its siren call as a destination; the unforeseen nooks and crannies of its urban space; its potential as a "media machine" to broadcast images and reputations; its demimonde—a city within a city where both literary culture and commerce took center stage. Without being limited to any single genre, specific movement, or individual author, the texts examined in this book highlight aspects of Chang'an as a shared and contested space in the collective imagination. They bring to our attention a newly emerged interval of social, existential, and geographical mobility in the lives of educated men, who as aspirants and routine capital-bound travelers learned to negotiate urban space. Both literary study and cultural history, City of Marvel and Transformation goes beyond close readings of text; it also draws productively from research in urban history, anthropology, and studies of space and place, building upon the theoretical frameworks of scholars such as Michel de Certeau, Henri Lefebvre, and Victor Turner. It is a welcome addition to the growing body of scholarship in Chinese studies on the importance of cities and city life. Students and scholars of premodern China will find new ways to understand the collective concerns of the lettered class, as well as new ways to understand literary phenomena that would eventually influence vernacular tales and the Chinese novel. By asking larger questions about how urban sojourns shape subjectivity and perceptions, this book will also attract a wide range of readers interested in studies of personhood, spatial practice, and cities as living cultural systems in flux, both ancient and modern.

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City of Virtues

Nanjing in an Age of Utopian Visions

by Chuck Wooldridge

Throughout Nanjing’s history, writers have claimed that its spectacular landscape of mountains and rivers imbued the city with “royal qi,” making it a place of great political significance. City of Virtues examines the ways a series of visionaries, drawing on past glories of the city, projected their ideologies onto Nanjing as they constructed buildings, performed rituals, and reworked the literary heritage of the city. More than an urban history of Nanjing from the late 18th century until 1911—encompassing the Opium War, the Taiping occupation of the city, the rebuilding of the city by Zeng Guofan, and attempts to establish it as the capital of the Republic of China—this study shows how utopian visions of the cosmos shaped Nanjing’s path through the turbulent 19th century.

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Clearer Skies Over China

Reconciling Air Quality, Climate, and Economic Goals

Chris P. Nielsen

China's carbon dioxide emissions now outstrip those of other countries and its domestic air quality is severely degraded, especially in urban areas. Its sheer size and its growing, fossil-fuel-powered economy mean that China's economic and environmental policy choices will have an outsized effect on the global environmental future. Over the last decade, China has pursued policies that target both fossil fuel use and atmospheric emissions, but these efforts have been substantially overwhelmed by the country's increasing energy demands. With a billion citizens still living on less than $4,000 per year, China's energy and environmental policies must be reconciled with the goals of maintaining economic growth and raising living standards. This book, a U.S.--Chinese collaboration of experts from Harvard and Tsinghua University, offers a groundbreaking integrated analysis of China's economy, emissions, air quality, public health, and agriculture. It first offers essential scientific context and accessible summaries of the book's policy findings; it then provides the underlying scientific and economic research. These studies suggest that China's recent sulfur controls achieved enormous environmental health benefits at unexpectedly low costs. They also indicate that judicious implementation of carbon taxes could reduce not only China's carbon emissions but also its air pollution more comprehensively than current single-pollutant policies, all at little cost to economic growth.

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Collaborative Colonial Power

The Making of the Hong Kong Chinese

Wing Sang Law

This book offers an alternative perspective to look into Hong Kong’s colonial pasts, tracing how malleable forms of colonial power are underpinning institutions and cultural imaginaries across the social body. Such a collaborative colonial power formation gave shape to the Hong Kong Chinese and its impacts are still lingering after 1997.

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Collaborative Regional Development in Northeast Asia

Towards a Sustainable Regional and Sub-regional Future

Edited by Won Bae Kim, Yue-manYeung, and Sang-Chuel Choe

Against the background of accelerating globalization and growing economic interdependence in Northeast Asia over the past two decades, including the recent global economic crisis, this book sets out to examine the status and prospect of cross-border cooperation. It has synthesized diverse strands of discussion and different country perspectives to highlight the challenges and opportunities of collaborative regional development in Northeast Asia. Distinct from previous studies, this book attempts to capture international, national, and local viewpoints in regional development. Practical experience across countries has been analyzed and consolidated to form the basis of a policy agenda for cross-border cooperation. Combining an intimate knowledge of the region and different disciplinary perspectives, this book offers a wealth of information, statistical and illustrative materials, and analyses across topics and countries of the region. Editors include Won Bae Kim, Research Advisor of the Gyeonggi Research Institute and former Senior Fellow at the Korean Research Institute for Human Settlements, Yue-man Yeung, Emeritus Professor of Geography and Honorary Fellow of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Sang- Chuel Choe, former Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Regional Development in South Korea and Professor Emeritus of Seoul National University.

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Colonial Hong Kong and Modern China

Interaction and Reintegration

Pui-tak Lee

The evolution of Hong Kong, as a British colony and now a Special Administrative Region at China's door step, has always been inextricably intertwined with the situation in China. This relationship is examined through various perspectives in this volume.

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Colors of Veracity

A Quest for Truth in China and Beyond

Vera Schwarcz

In Colors of Veracity, Vera Schwarcz condenses four decades of teaching and scholarship about China to raise fundamental questions about the nature of truth and history. In clear and vivid prose, she addresses contemporary moral dilemmas with a highly personal sense of ethics and aesthetics. Drawing on classical sources in Hebrew and Chinese (as well as several Greek and Japanese texts), Schwarcz brings deep and varied cultural references to bear on the question of truth and falsehood in human consciousness. An attentiveness to connotations and nuance is apparent throughout her work, which redefines both the Jewish understanding of emet (a notion of truth that encompasses authenticity) and the Chinese commitment to zhen (a vision of the real that comprises the innermost sincerity of the seeker’s heart-mind). Truth matters, even if it cannot be mapped in its totality. Veracity is shown again and again to be neither black nor white. Schwarcz’ accomplishment is a subtle depiction of “fractured luminosity,” which inspires and sustains the moral conviction of those who pursue truth against all odds.

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Communist Multiculturalism

Ethnic Revival in Southwest China

by Susan McCarthy

The communist Chinese state promotes the distinctiveness of the many minorities within its borders. At the same time, it is vigilant in suppressing groups that threaten the nation's unity or its modernizing goals. In Communist Multiculturalism, Susan K. McCarthy examines three minority groups in the province of Yunnan, focusing on the ways in which they have adapted to the government's nationbuilding and minority nationalities policies since the 1980s. She reveals that Chinese government policy is shaped by perceptions of what constitutes an authentic cultural group and of the threat ethnic minorities may constitute to national interests. These minority groups fit no clear categories but rather are practicing both their Chinese citizenship and the revival of their distinct cultural identities. For these groups, being minority is, or can be, one way of being national.

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Communist Takeover of Hangzhou

James Z. Gao

Existing literature on the Chinese Revolution takes into account the influence of peasant society on Mao’s ideas and policies but rarely discusses a reverse effect of comparable significance: namely, how peasant cadres were affected by the urban environment into which they moved. In this detailed examination of the cultural dimension of regime change in the early years of the Revolution, James Gao looks at how rural-based cadres changed and were changed by the urban culture that they were sent to dominate. He investigates how Communist cadres at the middle and lower levels left their familiar rural environment to take over the city of Hangzhou and how they consolidated political control, established economic stability, developed institutional reforms, and created political rituals to transform the urban culture. His book analyzes the interplay between revolutionary and non-revolutionary culture with respect to the varying degrees with which they resisted and adapted to each other. It reveals the essential role of cultural identity in legitimizing the new regime and keeping its revolutionary ideal alive.

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