Homesickness: Culture, Contagion, and National Transformation in Modern China

Homesickness: Culture, Contagion, and National Transformation in Modern China

by Carlos Rojas


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The collapse of China’s Qing dynasty coincided roughly with discoveries that helped revolutionize views of infectious disease. Together, these parallel developments generated a set of paradigm shifts in the understanding of society, the individual, as well as the cultural matrix that mediates between them. In Homesickness, Carlos Rojas examines an array of Chinese literary and cinematic tropes of illness, arguing that these works approach sickness not solely as a symptom of dysfunction but more importantly as a key to its potential solution.

Rojas focuses on a condition he calls “homesickness”—referring to a discomfort caused not by a longing for home but by an excessive proximity to it. The product of a dialectics of internal alienation and self-differentiation, this inverse homesickness marks a movement away from the “home,” conceived as spaces associated with the nation, the family, and the individual body. The result is a productive dynamism that gives rise to the possibility of long-term health. Without sickness, in other words, there could be no health.

Through a set of detailed analyses of works from China, Greater China, and the global Chinese diaspora—ranging from late-imperial figures such as Liu E and Zeng Pu to contemporary figures such as Yan Lianke and Tsai Ming-liang—Rojas asserts that the very possibility of health is predicated on this condition of homesickness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674743946
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 04/06/2015
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Carlos Rojas is Associate Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies, Women’s Studies, and Arts of the Moving Image at Duke University.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Introduction 1

Part I 1906: Phagocytes 35

1 Reform 41

2 Rebellion 66

3 Rebirth 95

Part II 1967: Pharmakons 123

4 Revolution 129

Part III 2006: Phantasms 149

5 Information 157

6 Capital 185

7 Labor 227

8 Membranes 257

Conclusion 283

Postface 295

Chinese Glossary 299

Notes 307

Acknowledgments 323

Index 325

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