In the Heat of Sentiments: Nationalism, Postsocialism, and Popular Culture in China, 1988-2007
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My dissertation delves into the recent articulation of popular nationalism in Mainland China, with particular emphasis on the changes that globalization and transnationalism have brought about to the representation of the Chinese nation in sentimental terms. Complementing the rich existing literature of Chinese nationalism that focuses mainly on the pre-1949 period, my study explores the less-treaded contemporary era characterized by the new historical condition of postsocialism, which features a residual of the socialist past as well as its reinvention under new overwhelming trends of globalization. Postsocialism and its consequences-the deepening of a neoliberalist economic refonn, the state-intellectual promotion of cultural economy, the emergence of a dominant consumer culture, etc.-have produced new issues existing scholarship on Chinese nationalism has yet to address. One such issue is how the paradoxical entity of the "nation" in time and space has been fragmented by the accretion of diversified voices from a wide spectrum of Chinese society. In postsocialist China, the agents imagining the nation include not only regulars like the state and intellectuals, but also new players like mass-media elites and netizens (wangmin). I argue that these voices of different social forces that break up the hegemony of the state in representing the nation-the result of which being not that the state is excluded from this enterprise but that it now tells only part of the story-become expressed as modes of national sentiments (minzu qinggan) when the nation is imagined under the historical condition of postsocialism. My study then explores in detail the fashioning and refashioning of contemporary Chinese subjectivity, as it relates through the joining of national sentiments to the literal and figurative body of the nation and the social power structure, by analyzing these specific voices in a broad range of popular texts from TV, film, and the Internet. The detailed examination includes four chapters dealing with specific modes of national sentiments articulated by the intellectuals, the state, the mass-media elites, and the netizens, respectively.