Papers on Sinophone Worlds

Thursday
11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room 6

  • Jessica Ka Yee Chan, “The Voice of Bruce Lee”
  • Cui Zhou, “Can Cinematic Forms Affect the Other? Problematising the Soundscape of the film On the Hunting Ground (dir. Tian Zhuangzhuang, 1984)”
  • Guowen Shang, “Norwegian Soul in Chinese Body: A Study of Chinese Adopted Norwegian Students’ Perception of Chinese Identity”
  • Carsten Schäfer, “Hong Kong Redefined: Identity Politics between Localism, Transnationalism, and Chinese Nationalism”

Jessica Ka Yee Chan, “The Voice of Bruce Lee”

Although fluent in Cantonese and English, Bruce Lee’s original voice is rarely heard in his film. Out of the films that Bruce Lee completed, the only one that features his original voice (in English dialogue) is Enter the Dragon (1973). As a record of his living, rarely heard, and irreplaceable voice, Bruce Lee’s signature scream, in his own voice, has acquired charisma, capturing colonial angst, and raw emotions.
This essay traces the (missing) voice of Bruce Lee and reveals the creative tension between dubbing and subtitling, symptomatic of the negotiation between spoken dialects (Cantonese), written languages (Chinese and English), and competing mother tongues in Hong Kong cinema. Typically shot without sound, Hong Kong action films in the 1960s and 70s were often dubbed in Mandarin during post-production for the Mandarin language market. A bilingual subtitling system, in Chinese and English, reduced the cost of dubbing in multiple tracks for multiple dialects and maximised profit by appealing to overseas market, especially Southeast Asia, where various Chinese dialects and English were spoken. Through a close reading of image, sound, and script (subtitles), this essay examines the understudied role of dubbing and subtitling in making Bruce Lee a kungfu icon and transnational star.

Cui Zhou, “Can Cinematic Forms Affect the Other? Problematising the Soundscape of the film On the Hunting Ground (dir. Tian Zhuangzhuang, 1984)”

As a significant director of the so-called Fifth Generation in China, Tian Zhuangzhuang first established his reputation by producing two 1980s ethnic minority films: On the Hunting Ground and The Horse Thief. Even though scholars have affirmed Tian’s innovative experiments in the aspect of cinematic forms, they seldom dig into the complex effects and functions of Tian’s intriguing audio-visual strategies. It is the time to listen to the silenced stories hidden behind the forms and reflect how these stories can renew one’s understanding of the ethnic issues in 1980s China. Using On the Hunting Ground as an example, this article centres on the perspective of the soundscape to understand the function of Tian’s formal experiments in the 1980s. Tian’s double-layered soundtrack, which lays a monotone male Mandarin translation over all the Mongolian dialogues, serves as the focal point. I argue that this peculiar auditory design not only reveals the Han-centric hierarchy but also, more importantly, constructs a reflexive space and a new point-of-audition, which exposes the Han to the moviegoing experience of ethnic minorities in Socialist China. Thus, Tian deviates from the stereotyped Han-centric point of view of Socialist minority films and puts the minorities’ experience in the centre. Further, the film’s complicated soundscape and narrative austerity distract audiences from the conventional pleasure deriving from dramatic narration and instead stimulate their sensation and sensibility to feel the sound and the image. In this way, Tian explores how form can affect audiences and whether the Han and non-Han, who have many cultural differences, can share each other’s subject positions by communicating through the shared sensation and sensibility. For Tian, the potential exchangeable subject positions, to some degree, serve as a way to intervene in the identity crisis and ethnic issues in 1980s China.

Guowen Shang, “Norwegian Soul in Chinese Body: A Study of Chinese Adopted Norwegian Students’ Perception of Chinese Identity”

The identity formation for international adoptees has attracted much academic explorations in the past decades. Norway is one of the top 10 adoption-receiving countries in the world. However, no specific research has been carried out regarding the ethnic identities of Chinese adoptees in Norway, and little is known about Chinese adopted Norwegian’s attitudes towards their ethnic origins. This study is intended to examine Norwegian adopted Chinese students’ perception of their identity and their attitudes towards China and Chinese culture. Altogether 20 Chinese adopted Norwegian students at universities in western Norway were involved in the questionnaire survey and semi-structured interview in order to find out how they perceive their ethnic identity and how they deal with the ‘identity dilemmas’ within a predominantly white environment. Phinney’s (1992) Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM) was used to measure the participants’ identification with China and Chinese culture and society. In addition, an individual-based, face-to-face interview was conducted to understand more about the participants’ attitudes towards their cultural identities. It is found that the group of Chinese adopted Norwegian students generally felt secure about their identity. They all perceived themselves as Norwegian but could experience some challenges in having a Chinese appearance. The majority of the participants expressed a somewhat superficial interest in China, their birth country. Most of the Chinese adoptees feel less confused and conflicted about their cultural identity.

Carsten Schäfer, “Hong Kong Redefined: Identity Politics between Localism, Transnationalism, and Chinese Nationalism”

The paper examines the struggle for Hong Kong’s cultural identity in recent years. By doing so, it aims at connecting current developments in the city to its pre-handover origins, thus offering a more nuanced understanding of the latest conflicts in the city. Under British colonial rule, Hong Kong’s culture incorporated Western, Chinese, and other influences. At the same time, the city offered refuge to millions of Chinese fleeing political and economic troubles on the mainland. This history is the foundation of the cities culture; against this background, the paper understands Hong Kong as space where different “Chinese” identities clash and fuse. On the one hand, “localist” discourses seek to construct Hong Kong as a place in its own right; on the other hand, official Chinese discourse understands Hong Kong as “just another Chinese city.”
The studies’ mixed-method approach includes a qualitative content analysis of Hong Kong print media and school teaching materials as well as an analysis of selected “linguistic landscapes” in the city. I aim to understand how Hong Kong identities are being rewritten, as well as the significance of this in the context of the struggle for a master narrative for modern China. To do so, I apply a theoretical model that argues that the complexities of Hong Kong’s identity should be analysed within a context that systematically takes into account not only Chinese but also English, Western, Japanese, diasporic, and (other) “transnational” factors of influence. The paper will present (preliminary) findings of this research project.

Event Timeslots (1)

Room 6
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