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Author: ZhangJinLing
Tutor: WangJianMin;Gregory B. Lee
School: Central University for Nationalities
Course: Anthropology
Keywords: Other Cultural imaginary Construction
CLC: C912.4
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2007
Downloads: 504
Quote: 0
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Abstract


The theme of this dissertation is the construction of the Other in the cultural imaginary. Specifically, it is about the image of China in the cultural imaginaries of "the French". But "China" here refers to a "cultural China"; cultural imaginary thus signifies cultural perception and cognition. This thesis discusses how "the French" have imagined Chinese culture.Compared to traditional anthropological studies, this research does not focus on a specific or traditional anthropological community, but rather on a social group, formed through Chinese culture and cultural practices. The fieldwork took place in Lyon where there exists a kind of Chinese sub-cultural environment. In view of the fact that there are many French people interested in Chinese culture, this research takes "cultural space" as an analytical point of view and "cultural imaginary" as key words to understand the cultural engagement, in local society, of some French people connected with China, to analyse the underlying socio-cultural motivation of this engagement and to find an explanation for this cultural imaginary under the prevailing discourse about this phenomenon. While explaining the cultural imaginary of some French people regarding China with anthropological theories, what we see is rather the self-reflection of French culture and its cultural psychology.The academic perspective of this study is constituted by three dimensions. First is the historical dimension through which the author discusses the French historical dominant discourse of the imaginaries relating to China; secondly, is the spatial dimension: the Chinese cultural space existing in local French society, as well as a kind of cultural space extending to China through numerous cultural interactions; thirdly, a discursive dimension, which allows us to consider the spectacular consumption and imaginary about Chinese culture of some French people.In view of the need to understand the fieldwork material, the first part discusses, through some French texts, the change in the ways China and its culture have been imagined in France, and the relation between the mutations of the times and meta-narratives. The author considers that the cultural image of China has historically neither been invariable, nor homogeneous in France, and its evolution has depended, on the one hand, on the change in meta-narratives in each epoch, and on the other hand, on certain French cultural factors. But the final intention of this change aims at the need of French culture to establish its self-cultural identity.The second part, focusing on the local Chinese cultural space in Lyon and many cultural interactions relating to China, discusses the representation of the imaginaries of certain French people about Chinese culture. The French imagined China is a cultural Other marked by stereotypes, Chinese "traditions", which are often reduced to a distant, mythical past. The otherness of Chinese culture satisfies certain French cultural interests corresponding to contemporary society. "The French" construct anddeconstruct their imaginaries about China through their "Chinese" cultural practices, memories fixed in Chinese objects, their cultural trips to China, and so on. In this "Chinese" cultural space, we see the differences of "shared" meaning, which reveal to us that some French would like to identify themselves in the new social context by instrumentalising Chinese culture as an Other.Through many cultural events and from the points of view of Cultural Capital, Consumer Society and Spectacled Society, the third part explores the fact that French local society takes Chinese culture as a commodity to be understood and consumed in the context of globalization. That Chinese culture has become "cultural capital" represents the influence of a new meta-narrative about China. In the consumption of Chinese culture we see material desires and also the seduction of imaginary and commercialized knowledge about China. For some French, living in spectacular society, through some Chinese films and French media, they see also a "spectacular China" which represents equally the ways they imagine China. The dominant imaginary relating to China in French local society constitutes a contemporary production of a China imagined otherwise.

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CLC: > Social Sciences > Sociology > Social structure and social relations > Cultural anthropology, social anthropology
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