NYU Shanghai Center for Global Asia Lecture Series
The kids are not all right: Filiality and intergenerational attachments in contemporary China?
A Conversation between Gail Hershatter and Angela Zito with Francesca Tarocco, moderator
What happens to relations between generations whose experiences are so vastly different as grandparents who saw the Revolution, parents who survived the Cultural Revolution, and children raised in the post-Deng era of Reform? How are such relationships portrayed, out loud, in film or in state propaganda campaigns that seek to reinstate the old virtue of “filiality”? What role does memory play?
In a conversation rooted in their respective research experiences that have ranged over more than thirty years in various parts of China, professors Gail Hershatter and Angela Zito will explore these questions. Dr. Hershatter will talk about the intergenerational tensions over elder support that she learned about while interviewing elderly women in Shaanxi in the 1990s and early 2000s. Such tensions are often blamed on the economic reforms, but oral histories suggest that they have their roots in the era of socialist collective agriculture, when reforms in farming and household structure produced some surprising effects. She will also explore the lessons that middle-aged farming women have learned—or not learned—from their mothers.
Dr. Zito will discuss a young documentary filmmakers’ approach to both her parents and their village’s ideas about the past and how one should remember it. Returning annually to her family seat, Zou Village in the coastal metropolitan zone of Binzhou in northern Shandong Province, filmmaker Zou Xueping has produced a film every year since 2010, with a total of five to date. Her opening trilogy—The Starving Village (2010), Satiated Village (2011), and Children’s Village (2012)—records her slowly growing investments in relationships in the village. The trilogy dramatizes the dialectic of natal family versus wider community as all concerned wrestle with questions about appropriate memory.
Gail Hershatter is a Distinguished Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her books include The Workers of Tianjin (1986), Personal Voices: Chinese Women in the 1980s (1988, with Emily Honig), Dangerous Pleasures: Prostitution in Twentieth-Century Shanghai (1997), Women in China's Long Twentieth Century (2004), and The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China's Collective Past (2011). She is a past president of the Association for Asian Studies.
Angela Zito is a NYU Associate Professor of Anthropology and Religious Studies and Affiliated faculty with the Department of Cinema Studies. She is co-founder and co-Director of the Center for Religion and Media at NYU and has collaborated with Zhang Zhen to curate The Reel China Biennial at NYU since 2006. An essay on the Folk Memory Project of Caochangdi Workstation in Beijing which she discusses today appears in the current issue of Film Quarterly. Her book, co-edited with Zhang Zhen and entitled DV-Made China: Digital subjects and social transformations after independent film, was published in 2015 by University of Hawaii Press. Visit her website www.angelazito.com for more writing on doc film, her work on ritual, gender and a link to the trailer for her own documentary, Writing in Water (2012). She is happy to be a GRI fellow this fall at the Center for Global Asia at NYU-SH.
Francesca Tarocco is Assistant Professor of Chinese Religious and Visual Cultures and Affiliated faculty at the Center for Global Asia at NYU Shanghai. Her interdisciplinary research has drawn upon archival sources, ethnographic research and religious sources to address problems in modern Chinese intellectual history and cultural studies. Her books include Iconophilia: A cultural history of Buddhist images in modern China (Columbia University Press, 2016) and The Cultural Practices of Modern Chinese Buddhism: Attuning the Dharma (Routledge, 2008). Her latest scholarly essay include “The City and the Pagoda: Buddhist spatial tactics in Shanghai” (Handbook of Religion and the Asian City: Urban aspirations in Asia, University of California Press, 2015) and "On the Market: Consumption and material culture in modern Chinese Buddhism” (Religion, 2011).
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