This article examines Chinese filmmaker Li Shaohong’s film productions in the 2000s—including Baober in Love, Stolen Life, and The Door—and provides a gender history of post-socialist Chinese femininity and masculinity. Rather than reading the “post” as the transition from socialist to globally commodified femininity, this essay unravels it as a complex cultural field of gender recoding, negotiation, and experimentation. Critiquing the “city” as an expanding network of consumer desires, Li’s urban cinema illustrates the dystopic imaginary of post-socialist home spaces that evoke an invisible system of spatial violence. Adding a gendered twist to Walter Benjamin’s Marxist critique of phantasmagorias of the interior, Li’s feminist interior portrays a post-socialist masculinist urban (bodies-cities) network, where women are seen as displaced, homeless, and disappeared. In the struggle for “space,” both body and city are portrayed as intimate dystopias, where the most familiar things become the most estranging sites of horror.
Intimate Dystopias: Dreams of the Interior and Architectural Feminism in Li Shaohong’s Urban Cinema
Erin Y. Huang is assistant professor in East Asian studies and comparative literature at Princeton University. She is the cofounder of Asia Theory Visuality—an intellectual platform that fosters collaborative thinking on interdisciplinary and theoretical approaches to Asian studies. Her first book, Urban Horror: Neoliberal Post-Socialism, Chinese Cinemas, and the Limits of Visibility, is under contract with Duke University Press.
Erin Y. Huang; Intimate Dystopias: Dreams of the Interior and Architectural Feminism in Li Shaohong’s Urban Cinema. positions 1 May 2019; 27 (2): 333–360. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-7334449
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