AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 591

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Session 591: National Representations

Mediating Power: The Self In Contemporary Chinese And Indian Popular Media
Nadia Sartoretti, GIIDS, Switzerland

China and India have been relegated to a position outside dominant global power configurations for several generations and are today emerging powers advancing self-consciously assertive projects to restore their position. This process of reclaiming their position is paradoxical: it has meant adopting and integrating norms, values and models into their vocabulary and practices China and India earlier contested if not shunned, while at the same time asserting their own norms, values and models. This process has been a wrenching one domestically in both societies and polities, with many layers of criticism and interrogation of dominant notions and claims about national success and power. These critiques and interrogations also constitute alternative narrations of the nation, its past, its present, and its relations to the world. The focus of this paper is to discuss and situate pluralized narrations and images of the nation in popular culture in contemporary China and India. In other words, this paper explores the ways in which the contemporary sense of ascent is expressed through self-images of power, or, how power is "mediated". This paper focuses on Chinese TV drama and Bombay industry movies (for the 2005 to 2010 time period). In more practical terms, this paper explores the ways in which China and India are "embodied" through cinematic images and narrations in locations and types of characters. It also explores the narratives and the temporal locations of these fictions. Thus, it analyzes not only the content of these images, but also their implications in terms of values and relations of power and the ways in which they are "mediatized" and articulated.

The Politics of Representing China at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair
Wen-shuo Liao, Academia Historica, China

With the first boom of national product fairs and regional expositions in the late 1920s, the Nationalist Government in 1931 accepted U.S. President Hoover’s invitation for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair in the hope of enhancing mutual relationship and worldwide understanding. A preparation committee was established, followed by a preview held in Shanghai early in 1933. The increasing budget and wide range of exhibits were to make it the largest official participation of China in a world exposition by far. Merely three months before the Fair’s opening, the Nationalist Government’s sudden withdrawal due to the Japanese invasion in Manchuria and Inner Mongolia nonetheless aggravated fractional conflicts under an air of suspicion. The private sector with certain financial subsidies eventually put on a show memorable for many of the visitors to the fairground. This paper aims to examine three contexts of this historical event: firstly, cultural diplomacy in view of contemporary geopolitics in East Asia; secondly, domestic fractional confrontations between Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Jingwei presumed to lead to the withdrawal; lastly but not leastly, categories of exhibits, mainly handicrafts and traditional industry products, the architectural design of a Beijing-style courtyard house as China’s Pavilion, and means of propaganda through the representations of China in the Fair. The Golden Pavilion of Jehol, the famed explorer Sven Hedin’s reproduction of the Lama Temple Potala funded by the entrepreneur Vincent Bendix in Chicago, particularly unveiled the tumultuous international politics backdrop while Jehol was already under siege of Japan.

Citizenship and Neo-nationalism in Japan
Apichai W. Shipper, Foreign Service Institute, USA

Given the difficulty of societal groups to influence the Japanese government, why have certain nationalist fringe groups succeeded while much larger and more mainstream groups have failed? To address this question, I employ a sociological account of political mobilization: political opportunity structure. Under Japan’s new electoral system with a combination of SMD and PR, certain xenophobic voices are incorporated into mainstream conservative politicians in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the Democratic Party of Japan. In recent years, right-wing, neo-nationalist political parties are beginning to emerge out of former members of the LDP, although these parties remain insignificant. Meanwhile some right-wing extremists conduct their occasional acts of violence against certain specific foreigner organizations at the margins. My findings not only demonstrate how electoral systems structure political activism but also identify specific political conditions and associational strategies under which a neo-nationalist organization achieves success in mobilizing public opinion and influencing policymakers. My account makes explicit the channels of societal access to polity and focuses on institutional and discursive aspects among two classes of nationalist groups: issue-specific groups (i.e. groups that deal with abduction issues) and broadly-defined ultra-nationalist organizations (i.e. uyoku dantai). The former provoke greater public reactions and better carries the contention to a wider public than the latter (as well as left-wing groups). Thereby, issue-specific groups have gained much greater legitimacy. In my theoretical framework, political conditions explain the nature and type of mobilization, while associational strategies determine the group’s ability to influence the public and policymakers.