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The Authorship of PlaceA Cultural Geography of the New Chinese Cinemas$
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Dennis Lo

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9789888528516

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888528516.001.0001

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Place and the Politics of Nation Branding

(p.165) Conclusion
The Authorship of Place

Dennis Lo

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter interrogates the geopolitical implications of a contemporary development in the region’s media industries — the institutionalization of location shooting into modes of nation branding that commoditize cultural signs in line with the states’ soft power objectives. Drawing from examples of recent location-shot film and media, including En Chen’s Island Etude, Chi Po-lin’s Beyond Beauty, and Zhejiang TV's Keep Running, I demonstrate how location shooting since Taiwan’s membership in the WTO has been institutionalized within the discursive contours of the “Love Taiwan” movement, a process which can be compared with the PRC’s marketing of the “Chinese Dream” to domestic tourists via convergent and place-based film and televisual media. While the resulting national brands could not appear more different, these discourses operate on the shared assumption that for place identities to be readily consumable and exportable, they must be coherent within a global “experience economy” that circulates images of distinctive yet fixed cultural identities. This reduction of place into readily consumable cultural signs can be contrasted with the enigmatic representation of Shanghai found in Jia Zhangke's I Wish I Knew, which fashions on-screen Doreen Massey’s notion of the “progressive place,” a poststructuralist reinterpretation of place that focuses on conflicting sociocultural processes that imbue spaces with richly layered meanings. Building on Massey's concept of the progressive place, this chapter argues that location-shot film and media in China and Taiwan, more than offering diversely themed experiences, have untapped potential in cultivating alternative public cultures through reflexive, minor, and performative modes of place making.

Keywords:   Nation branding, Soft power, Love Taiwan, Chinese Dream, Experience economy, I Wish I Knew, Island Etude, Film documentaries, Keep Running, Progressive place

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