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Chinese Discourses on Happiness$
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Gerda Wielander and Derek Hird

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888455720

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888455720.001.0001

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Talking of Happiness

Talking of Happiness

How Hope Configures Queer Experience in China

(p.169) 8 Talking of Happiness
Chinese Discourses on Happiness

William F. Schroeder

Hong Kong University Press

Anthropologists have long argued that emotions are cultural and have turned to the language of emotions to analyze them. This chapter starts from a similar approach but uses an online discussion about happiness among contemporary queer mainland Chinese men to argue that “emotion talk” opens up rather than delimits notions of how to live a joyful life. These men’s discussions focus less on particular definitions of happiness and more on the bonds created in the act of talking about it. Such a phatic approach allows them to maintain hopefulness in the face of persistent challenges to their wellbeing. The chapter concludes that the hopeful and potentiating aspects of emotion talk should encourage a shift in attention, especially in research with marginalized people, from simple questions of compliance or resistance toward a more nuanced analysis of affective context.

Keywords:   Affect, queer China, language, anthropology

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