Abstract

This article focuses on contemporary Chinese film director Jia Zhangke 賈樟柯 (b. 1970–) and his engagement with what critical/cultural theorist Fredric Jameson (b. 1934- ) calls geopolitical aesthetics or cognitive mapping. Through the county-level city (xiancheng 縣城) perspective, the block (bankuai 板塊) structure, the interplay of real and fictional, and the intertextual and transmedial references, Jia explores the possibilities of representational forms and aspires to map and scan the otherwise unrepresentable totality that is global capitalism in China. In this essay, the author engages with Jia's film Shijie 世界 (The World; 2004) and examines the portrayal of the migrant workers and their performances in the World Park in Beijing, China. Focusing on political economy and social class, he suggests that The World renders visible the dialectic of mobility and immobility of the migrant workers within the context of global capitalism in China. Shifting gears to gender, he explains how the female migrant workers, dressed in lavish and extravagant costumes and performing exotic dances for the tourists in the World Park, can be regarded as a productive site for deciphering the otherwise imperceptible contradictions of globalizing China. In particular, the author analyzes the film's opening sequence to show that the world featured on-screen is located at the disjuncture between reality and fantasy.

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