SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

“A Yao Self, a Miao Portrait: Two Moments of Filmmaking in ‘Minority’ China”

Jenny Chio, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Emory University

Date: 15 March 2017Time: 3:15 PM

Finishes: 15 March 2017Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Paul Webley Wing (Senate House) Room: S211

Type of Event: Seminar

This talk discusses two moments of filmmaking and ethnic minority self-representation that, upon first glance, may seem incommensurable. The first focuses on documentary films produced by Li Xia, an organizer and participant in a Baiku Yao cultural heritage preservation project in Nandan county, Guangxi. Li’s films reveal a careful negotiation of self-portrayal and collective cultural representation that contend with her aspirations for herself, an educated Yao woman, and for the Baiku Yao community as state-led village relocation, ethnic tourism, and rural development reshape contemporary social and economic realities. The second moment I examine is my on-going longitudinal ethnographic film about a Miao woman, Chen, in Upper Jidao village, Guizhou. Over the past fifteen years, Chen’s life has shifted from her initial role as village clinician to her present occupation running the village’s sole guesthouse. Unlike Li’s self-directed documentaries, my filmic portrait of Chen utilizes the video camera as a mirror in which Chen deliberately crafts her self-image for me and for an imagined audience. My analysis will examine the lived experience of modernity for these young educated women in ‘minority’ communities in order to raise critical questions about the mediatization of ethnic and gendered subjectivities and the everyday texture of ‘development’ in China today.

Organiser: Dr. Stephen Hughes