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CCCI: Reimagining the Real China: Dilemmas (and Solutions) of Han-ness and Tradition in China Today

Monday, November 13, 2017 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Goldwin Smith Hall, G64, Kaufman Auditorium
232 East Ave, Central Campus

The Cornell Contemporary China Initiative Lecture Series, featuring interdisciplinary talks by scholars on issues in China today, runs every Monday this semester. 

Kevin Carrico, Lecturer of Chinese Studies, Macquarie University

"Reimagining the Real China: Dilemmas (and Solutions) of Han-ness and Tradition in China Today"

What, when, and where is the “real China”? According to a growing group of young people in cities across the country, the real China is not to be found in the reality of the present. Instead of the now familiar images of skyscrapers, high-speed trains, new fashion, and globalization, the groups discussed in this talk envision courtyard homes, sacred rituals, traditional robes, and a homogenizing ethnic purity as embodying the proper essence of China, an eternal “land of rites and etiquette.” Drawing upon ethnographic research conducted with members of the Han Clothing Movement and traditionalist educational associations in the Pearl River Delta and beyond published in the recent book The Great Han: Race, Nationalism, and Tradition in China Today, this talk examines the rise of social movements dedicated to a fundamentally conservative and homogenizing vision of Chineseness within an increasingly complex society. What are these ethno-traditionalist movements’ main ideals, objectives, and practices? Why have they emerged at this historical moment? Who joins these movements, and what do they derive from their involvement? Yet most importantly, is their essentialist “real China” of the past any more real than the present? And what are the repercussions of these tensions between reality and imagining, or between actuality and ideals, in the experience of national identity in general?

Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, East Asia Program, Global Cornell


chincal, cashum


Cornell Contemporary China Initiative


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East Asia Program

Contact Phone



Kevin Carrico

Speaker Affiliation

Macquarie University

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