Body as Strategies in Contemporary China: The Multiplicity of the Body in Literature, Media, and Social Practice

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Body as Strategies in Contemporary China: The Multiplicity of the Body in Literature, Media, and Social Practice
Stream: Literature
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Authors:
Yuqing Liu, University of British Columbia, Canada (organizer, presenter)
Xuefeng Feng, the University of Texas, Austin, United States (presenter)
Xuefei Ma, University of Arizona, United States (presenter)
Jun Lei, Texas A&M University, United States (chair, discussant)

Abstract:

This panel seeks to explore the strategic uses of the body in Chinese literature, media, and social practice. Following what the anthropologist and philosopher Annemarie Mol calls the body multiple, we contend that bodies are always more than one and less than many. The body multiple demands to be enacted in specific situations, and in turn can be used as strategies in connection to the imaginative, the symbolic, and the real in various temporal and geographical settings.

Deployed strategically, the body multiple can be and do a variety of things: as a
literary apparatus that brings out unexpected effects for the underprivileged; as a technology for the imaginative to merge into the social order; additionally, as complicated, and sometimes ambiguous, negotiators between varying social relations; last but not least, as a rhizomic machine involved in the production of all kinds of other bodies, beings, and worlds.

The “body-becoming” event constitutes the key to understanding the post-socialist
body in Xuefeng Feng’s paper. Through examining the relations between women's writings and performance art, Xuefei Ma points out the agency of homosocial bodies. Focusing on the problem of identity, Yuqing Liu explores the empowered body of ghosts in Hong Kong cinema. The discussant Jun Lei, a literary historian and cultural critic, will place the aesthetic concerns of the panel into a broader literary historical context. Together, this panel aims to provide a new framework for understanding the potentiality of the body which is so deeply entangled with social and cultural practices.