Blog #1: Cosmopolitan Chinese Identity in Comics: Representations of Traditional Clothing (Hanfu)

The title of our project is “Cosmopolitan Chinese Identity in Comics: Representations of Traditional Clothing (Hanfu).” This project investigates a unique popular culture among millenniums and post-millenniums in contemporary urban China from both historical and sociological perspectives. This unique youth culture iscalled the ACG(Animation, Comics and Gaming). Influenced by the popular culture from Japan, Chinese youths are active participants in such animate-influenced activities. This  cultural trend not only entails economic benefits, but also encourages artists to challenge the old model of profit-driven commercial arts.

Focusing on the revival and reinvention of traditional fashion among Chinese youths, this research  discusses the convergence of two unique social phenomena, namely the popularization of  traditional clothing and the emergence of a large number of Chinoiseries ACG works.

There are three objectives for this project to accomplish. First, this project collects empirical data on contemporary Chinese ACG advocates, artists and consumers. Since there is still a lack of scholarly research on urban Chinese millennials and post-millenniums, this project strives to provide a general analysis of the economic potential of today’s Chinese animation market.

Second, this project will study the interconnected relationship between contemporary Japanese and Chinese popular cultures . The localization of Japanese comics and animation contributed to the growth of Chinese popular culture. This project reviews several unique case studies from Shanghai, and argues that the powerful force of globalization helps new Chinese ACG artists absorb popular culture from Japan in an effort to create their own unique culture.

Third, this research compares the aesthetical and sociocultural concerns of the young Chinese comic artists with the styles of the previous generations. In the 20thcentury, the aesthetics of comics in China was greatly influenced by Japan, the Soviet Union and the West. This comparative dimension is essential for studying the formation of today’s Chinese ACG culture.

This research (or This project) evaluates the youth-led practice of traditional fashion contributed by the ACG culture in contemporary China. The popular art environment in China has experienced rapid changes since 2015, facilitating the rise of new creative industries and of a sense of cultural confidence.

Evidence from my field study shows that the social phenomenon of Hanfu practice once was  controversial among Chinese youths. Historically, young citizens were easily mobilized by the state to take part in the campaigns of national renewal. Is this cultural revival movement advocated by today’s young generation, an expression of individualism, or a manifestation of wider nationalistic sentiments?

This research plans to use several methods. First, it is going to review several historical and sociological scholarly sources about popular culture and Chinese history. Some Chinese studies of traditional Chinese dressing or Hanfu are going to be reviewed and referenced as well.

Besides, this project is going to collect first-hand information from multiple animation-related industries in China by interviewing young artists as well as the ACG fans. I also went to a professional comic convention held in  Shanghai in June 2019 for data collection.

Last, as a comic artist myself. I have been working in the field for 5 years. The project enables me to reflect on my personal experience from a holistic perspective. I will contextualize my own publications and commissioned works against the commercialization of ACG art in China.


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