In her new collection of essays anthropologist Lisa Rofel productively reexamines changes in China over the past twenty years that have too often been glossed over in the abstract terms of reform, transition, and globalization. Such accounts depict a China rapidly on its way to achieving the standard features of cultural life under global capitalism, which to many are already familiar. However, Rofel argues that far from adopting a prepackaged set of neoliberal practices and cosmopolitan identities, China is engaged in an uncharted and experimental search for a post-Maoist narrative of national coherence. Examining the domains of practice and public culture where macroinstitutional configurations are articulating with and shaping individual subjectivities, Rofel sees the emergence of a new structure of the self in contemporary China. Whereas Chinese subjectivity was once defined by political and class-consciousness, she finds it is now being reconstituted...
Book Review|July 01 2008
Desiring a Coherent China
Cultural Politics (2008) 4 (2): 253-256.