Minority Ethnicity Environmental Cinema in China: In Search of Different Imaginaries of Ecological Civilization

Project: Research project

Project Details


This project examines, through moving images in fiction and documentary films produced in China, the trajectories and implications of “Ecological Civilization” promoted by the Chinese state as well as the different visions from the civil society and ethnic minority communities in relation to the environmental issues. It focuses on how China’s green documentaries and ethnic minority cinema interact and respond to the state campaign of ecological imaginary and in what ways they are able to take initiatives and produce their own imaginaries for other possible, if not alternative, thinking about the national as well as planetary future. I investigate the implications of ecological civilization under the direction of the authoritarian state in order to understand the dynamic ways of how the future of ecology is envisioned not only by the state but also by other non-state actors in China, and analyze by means of cinematic productions the entangled relations between the state and different cultural actors in a subject matter they are bound to share. While urban-rural, modern-traditional, mainstream-marginal, indigenous-external, self-other divides play the key role in the ecological imaginaries, I explore how China’s ecological future is deeply intertwined with different ethnic communities, Ethnic peripheries are significant components of ecological civilization because ethnic regions function as the ecological service provider for China’s core areas. The state project of Ecological Civilization is more than just another ideological campaign since it is driven by objective environmental pressures the whole Chinese nation is confronting. While the cultural actors with limited autonomy are facing an authoritarian state that keeps shifting the terrain of what is allowed and always endeavors to homogenize all voices, ecological interdependence and uncertainty may give rise to various imaginaries and visions to emerge. Cinematic productions even under official monitoring are able to cultivate individual or collective consciousness of ecologically civilized future since the government’s environmental laws and policies can never entirely cover the scale of ecosystem, while the adaptive governance is skilful in accommodating adjustments and experimentations from different sources even without political liberalization and democratization. The project attempts to understand and capture some of the potentially different perspectives and experiences that lie behind the state-promoted ecological civilization. These films I analyze are not simply grasped as representational works that reflect socio-political realities, but are understood as significant constitutive parts since they embody many micro decisions and actions made in China by individuals and local communities, ultimately shaping ecological future.
Effective start/end date1/01/2231/12/23


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.