- The Cosmopolitan Dream: Transnational Chinese Masculinities in a Global Age ed. by Derek Hird and Geng Song
The Cosmopolitan Dream: Transnational Chinese Masculinities in a Global Age is a timely contribution that enriches academic discussion of the [End Page 209] intersection between masculinities and migration by examining how Chinese masculinities are shaped, transformed, and reconstructed in the context of rapid socio-economic transition and increasing migration in mainland China. A collection of multi-disciplinary studies on Chinese masculinities, this edited volume covers both media representations of Chinese masculinities in various forms such as films, television series, fiction, and reality shows, and the daily experiences of Chinese men in different migration contexts. The essays in this book document how globalization, international migration, cosmopolitanism, and consumerism create new opportunities and crises for Chinese men to reflect on their manhood, and examine how elite and ordinary Chinese migrant men use their resources, agency, and strategies to negotiate and reconstruct their masculinities in their everyday lives. The hybrid Chinese masculinities demonstrated in this book are largely the result of interactions between macro structural forces and the micro daily practices of men.
Chinese masculinities have complex and sophisticated connotations and are in a constant state of flux. While Confucianism, the wen-wu (文武) dyad, and the images of junzi (君子) and caizi (才子) reflect the distinctive characteristics of Chinese masculinities in the imperial era, contemporary Chinese masculinities are expressed in more hybrid forms that are subject to the influences of historical and cultural traditions, socio-economic developments, and ideological transformations in the new era. This book mainly concentrates on changes in Chinese masculinities after China's economic reform and focuses its attention on men who were born in mainland China, many of whom have migrated internationally. The rapid economic development in post-reform China has provided more material resources for Chinese men to express their manhood, yet also subjects them to the influences of consumerism and cosmopolitanism, which associate masculinity with money, high quality of life, good taste, and civilized habits and behaviors. Moreover, with the increasing integration of China into the global system, Chinese men are exposed to Western hegemonic images or globally circulating ideas of successful men, and also have more opportunities to migrate to other countries and negotiate their manhood in accordance with their class, race, and immigrant status in their new host societies. Meanwhile, the influences of traditional Chinese culture have not totally vanished. The notion of wen (文) is still valued and finds its new expression via higher education, cultural capital, and literary creativity in post-reform China. The contributors to this book explore the multiplicity and hybridity of Chinese masculinities in these contexts.
The first part of the book focuses on the presentations of Chinese male images in various media. The essays show how transnational elite images of men are portrayed in Chinese television dramas, how transnational Chinese men in different periods are presented in German detective drama series and [End Page 210] Chinese movies directed by Hong Kong directors, how the "nonnormative sexual practices and identities" of gay Chinese men are expressed in novels (p. 11), how a Chinese immigrant poet in the U.S. explores his neo-wen masculinity via literature, and how a China-based author creates his new caizi image via "his amalgamation of global and local literacy personae and themes" (p. 13) and his transgression and phallic creativity in writing. The second part of the book mainly documents the masculinity constructions of Chinese men with different migration experiences. It covers the life journey of a Chinese immigrant in Japan, whose masculine image is transformed from a "mafia-connected sex industry entrepreneur to respectable politician and democracy advocate" (p. 13), and the story of a Hong Kong-based food critic who integrated his transnational experiences and traditional knowledge into his culinary literature and commerce, and in doing so explored his hybrid masculinity. The second part also examines how Chinese men negotiate their manhood via their gender roles and relationships...