Leaving China: Media, Migration, and Transnational Imagination

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Rowman & Littlefield, 2002 - History - 243 pages
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More than ever before, China is on the move. When the flow of people and images is fused, meanings of self, place, space, community, and nation become unstable and contestable. This fascinating book explores the ways in which movement within and across the national borders of the PRC has influenced the imagination of the Chinese people, both those who remain and those who have left. Travelers or no, all participate in the production and consumption of images and narratives of travel, thus contributing to the formation of transnational subjectivities. Wanning Sun offers a fine-grained analysis of the significant narrative forms and discursive strategies used in representing transnational space in contemporary China. This includes looking at how stay-at-homes fantasize about faraway or unknown places, and how those in the diaspora remember experiences of familiar places. She considers the ways in which mobility-of people, capital, and images-affects localities through individuals' constructions of a sense of place. Relatedly, the author illustrates how economic, social, and political forces either facilitate or inhibit the formation of a particular kind of transnational subjectivity.

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Very disappointing. The topic of the book is most interesting, dealing with the almost irrational desire for the Chinese to leave China in pursuit of an imagined better life abroad (read: West, particularly America). The author approaches this topic mainly through performing cultural analysis of the production and consumption of televisual images and narratives in China in the 1990s, during which time information and visual representations about Chinese living abroad abounded. The author has a way of writing that superficially conforms to scholarly convention in this genre but ultimately says nothing, or says things very unclearly. The text could only make sense if read in units of several paragraphs. When a chapter is taken together, it's nearly impossible to know what the author is trying to say. Hence, having waded through over half of the book, I'm still left with a jumbled, if not in fact empty, mind. Even in the Introduction and conclusion chapters where some theoretical points are made - or at least such efforts seem present - the author's wishywashy style of writing makes her points very imprecise. The author is obviously aware of the important theoretical vocabulary, but she commits the mistake of dropping these words in a grammatically suspicious and semantically garbled manner. Not a very helpful read after all.  


Going Home or Going Places Television in the Village
Going Abroad or Staying Home Cinema Fantasy and the World City
Arriving at the Global City Television Dramas and Spatial Imagination
Haggling in the Margin Videotapes and Paradiasporic Audiences
Fantasizing the Homeland The Internet Memory and Exilic Longings
Eating Food and Telling Stories From Homeland to Homepage
Fragmenting the National TimeSpace Media Events in the Satellite Age
Chinese in the Global Village Olympics and an Electronic Nation
Toward a Transnational China?
About the Author

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Page 20 - On the road again: metaphors of travel in cultural criticism', Cultural Studies, 7, 2 (May 1995), pp.

References to this book

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Janet Wasko
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About the author (2002)

Wanning Sun is lecturer in media studies at Curtin University of Technology, Perth.

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