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University of Oregon

Economy, Emotion, and Ethics in Chinese Cinema: Globalization on Speed

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Author:  David Li

The First and Second Comings of capitalism are conceptual shorthands used to capture the radical changes in global geopolitics from the Opium War to the end of the Cold War and beyond. Centering the role of capitalism in the Chinese everyday, the framework can be employed to comprehend contemporary Chinese culture in general and, as in this study, Chinese cinema in particular.

This book investigates major Chinese-language films from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong in order to unpack a hyper-compressed capitalist modernity with distinctive Chinese characteristics. As a dialogue between the film genre as a mediation of microscopic social life, and the narrative of economic development as a macroscopic political abstraction, it engages the two otherwise remotely related worlds, illustrating how the State and the Subject are reconstituted cinematically in late capitalism. A deeply cultural, determinedly historical, and deliberately interdisciplinary study, it approaches “culture” anthropologically, as a way of life emanating from the every day, and aesthetically, as imaginative forms and creative expressions.