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Cultural representation and self-representation of dagongmei in contemporary China


Jaguscik, Justyna (2011). Cultural representation and self-representation of dagongmei in contemporary China. DEP - Deportate, Esuli, Profughe (Special Issue), (17):121-138.

Abstract

In the 1980s, working women migrant labourers, known as the dagongmei or “working sisters,” emerged as an object of interest in popular films and television dramas. These initial visual representations have since been reiterated in sequels adjusted to fit best the current rhetoric of the party-state. Concurrent to the mass media is the less-widespread phenomenon of labourer’s literature (dagong wenxue), through which we can read the dagongmei’s own (self-) representations. Eventually, after the Millennium the number of scientific publications on the dagongmei topic has also increased significantly. Bringing these different media together, this paper thematizes the aporias of dagongmei’s (self-) representations and scrutinizes various acts of utterance, asking what they mean in terms of
class and gender subjectivity. I argue that for blue-collar women, becoming part of the popular media culture does not necessarily lead to the emergence of novel mass subject identifications. It can be regarded much more as a strategy of appeasement of the rural “other” based upon the idea of a high modern, highly flexible subjectivity that does not really offer much more agency than the possibility of smoother adjustment to the logic of global capitalism.

In the 1980s, working women migrant labourers, known as the dagongmei or “working sisters,” emerged as an object of interest in popular films and television dramas. These initial visual representations have since been reiterated in sequels adjusted to fit best the current rhetoric of the party-state. Concurrent to the mass media is the less-widespread phenomenon of labourer’s literature (dagong wenxue), through which we can read the dagongmei’s own (self-) representations. Eventually, after the Millennium the number of scientific publications on the dagongmei topic has also increased significantly. Bringing these different media together, this paper thematizes the aporias of dagongmei’s (self-) representations and scrutinizes various acts of utterance, asking what they mean in terms of
class and gender subjectivity. I argue that for blue-collar women, becoming part of the popular media culture does not necessarily lead to the emergence of novel mass subject identifications. It can be regarded much more as a strategy of appeasement of the rural “other” based upon the idea of a high modern, highly flexible subjectivity that does not really offer much more agency than the possibility of smoother adjustment to the logic of global capitalism.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:08 University Research Priority Programs > Asia and Europe
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:950 History of Asia
180 Ancient, medieval & eastern philosophy
290 Other religions
Language:English
Date:2011
Deposited On:03 Jan 2012 15:38
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:14
Publisher:Università Ca'Foscari Venezia Online
ISSN:1824-4483
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Official URL:http://www.unive.it/nqcontent.cfm?a_id=98260
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-52820

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