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Ethnic Minority Cinema in China’s Nation-State Building

Subjects: Asian Studies, China, Media Studies, Cinema Studies
Open Access : 9780472904884, 298 pages, 20 figures, 6 x 9, February 2025
Paperback : 9780472057276, 298 pages, 20 figures, 6 x 9, February 2025
Hardcover : 9780472077274, 298 pages, 20 figures, 6 x 9, February 2025
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A comprehensive study of China’s ethnic minority cinema from the Republican Era to the present


Ethnic Minority Cinema in China’s Nation-State Building investigates the convoluted relations between the cinematic productions about non-Han ethnic minorities and China’s nation-state building project from the early Republican era of the 1920s to the current authoritarian regime in the twenty-first century. The glossy, but superficial, cinematic depictions of non-Han ethnic minorities manufactured and manipulated by state authorities have deeply penetrated the Chinese psyche of what an ideal multiethnic nation should be like, with these visuals changing what it means to be Chinese under political unification. 

Kwai-Cheung Lo understands these ethnic minorities as part of a larger ecosystem and alludes to the cultures, values, and life practices of non-Han ethnic minorities as closely entwined with environmental issues and politics. This intertwining, Lo argues, suggests a crisis in “objectification and identification” of both people and the environment, that plays out in cinema featuring ethnic minorities. Lo traces these representations of Chinese ethnic minority groups in films created by both members of the Han-majority and non-Han filmmakers, examining how these representations became a site in which state authorities, Han and non-Han communities, and foreign agencies compete and interact under the larger context of building and imagining the Chinese nation-state.

Kwai-Cheung Lo is Professor and Head of the Department of Humanities and Creative Writing at Hong Kong Baptist University.

"An ambitious, timely, and erudite treatment—the first of its kind in English, and the first unbiased one in any language—of a major corpus of Sinophone films, usually referred to as Ethnic Minorities Cinema."

- Yomi Braester, University of Washington, and Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Chinese Cinemas

"Lo successfully historicizes shifting strategies throughout China’s history of ethnic-themed films to constitute a unified Chinese identity. This book includes a wealth of information on ethnic minority films and is a bold intervention in the fields of Chinese Cinema Studies, Chinese Studies, and Chinese Ethnic Minority Studies."

- Robin Visser, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill