ChinaCreative

Funded by the European Research Council, as an ERC consolidator grant, titled  ‘From Made in China to Created in China – A Comparative Study of Creative Practice and Production in Contemporary China.’ (Euro 1.947.448)

Project summary

What does creativity mean in the context of China, and what does it do? When both the state and profoundly globalised creative industries are so deeply implicated in the promotion of creativity, what are the possibilities of criticality, if any? With its emergence as a global power, China aspires to move from a “made in China” towards a “created in China” country. Creativity and culture have become a crucial source for innovation and financial growth, but are also mobilised to promote a new and open China to both the citizenry as well as the outside world. They are part of what is termed China’s “soft power.”

This project understands creativity as a textual, a social as well as a heritage practice. It aims to analyse claims of creativity in different cultural practices, and to analyse how emerging creativities in China are part of tactics of governmentality and disable or enable possibilities of criticality. The theory of creativity, governmentality and criticality this project develops is, however, not only relevant for China, but speaks to the humanities in general, where creativity has remained undertheorized. Using a comparative, multi-disciplinary, multi-method and multi-sited research design, five subprojects analyse (1) contemporary art, (2) calligraphy, (3) independent documentary cinema (all in Beijing), (4) Hunan Satellite Television (in Changsha) and (5) “fake” (shanzhai) art (in Shenzhen).

Three questions frame this project, related to creativity, governmentality and criticality. First, what are the emerging and contradictory claims of creativity in different cultural practices and among different actors in China? Second, how are contemporary creative practices and productions entangled with tactics of governmentality? Third, what are the critical possibilities and impossibilities of contemporary creative practices and productions in China?

The project will not just analyse what creativity, governmentality and criticality mean in China, but also, what China means for creativity, governmentality and criticality. It moves beyond the Euro-US-centric approach that characterises research on creativity. It also moves beyond the high versus low distinction that dominates research on art and popular culture. It is thoroughly comparative in terms of theory, methods, research sites, creativities, and the different dimensions within each creative sector. Its multidisciplinary approach draws on a combination of qualitative research methods consisting of a multi-sited ethnography, mobile methods, cultural mapping, collaborative research and aesthetic and discourse analysis. Finally, in its focus on criticality, this project  is both sensitive and imperative to investigate creativities’ possibilities to bring about political and social change.

Partners: Beijing Film Academy (Beijing), the Central Academy of Fine Arts (Beijing), Hunan University (Changsha), Jinan University (Guangzhou), Baptist University (Hong Kong), Chinese University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)

Project summary

“创新”一词在中国语境下指的是什么,又能起到什么作用?在国家以及高度全球化的创意产业都着力推动创新的情况下,还有可能对之进行建设性批评吗?随着中国渐渐成为全球性大国,中国期盼将自身从“制造大国”提升为“创造大国”。在中国,创新和文化已经变成变革和经济增长的关键资源,并且被用来向国内和国外社会推广新的、开放的中国国家形象。因而,创新和文化已成为所谓的中国“软实力”的一部分。

本研究将创新理解为一种情境化、社会化以及文化传承的实践。本研究着眼于分析不同文化实践中的关于“创新”的各种主张,并分析中国出现的各种创新活动如何成为国家治理策略的一部分,以及这些创新活动如何关闭或者开启批判的可能性。然而,本研究所探索的关于创新、国家治理术和批判性的理论,并不仅仅与中国有关,还将面向一般意义上的人文学科范畴,因为迄今为止在人文学科范围内创新仍旧是一个理论化不足的领域。本研究采用比较研究、跨学科、多方法、多地点的研究设计,将对五个子项目进行研究:(1)现代艺术(北京);(2)书法(北京);(3)独立纪录片(北京);(4)湖南卫视(长沙);(5)“假”(山寨)艺术(深圳)。

本研究的研究架构由三个问题组成,分别与创新、国家治理术和批判性相关。第一,在中国,在不同的文化实践中,以及在不同的行动者中,出现有哪些关于创新的、相互矛盾的主张?第二,当下的创新实践和创新生产如何与国家治理术相牵连?第三,对中国当下创新实践和创新生产的批判可能性与不可能性分别有哪些?

本研究在众多方面具有开创性。首先,本研究不仅仅分析创新、国家治理术和批判性在中国的意义,还探索中国对于创新、国家治理术和批判性研究的意义;其次,本研究超越了创新研究路径中的“欧洲—美国中心主义”特色;再次,本研究超越了雅文化和俗文化的二元区分,而这种区分在艺术和通俗文化研究中占有主导地位;第四,本研究将在理论、方法、研究地点、创新活动层面,以及对每个创新领域的不同向量,进行全面的比较研究;第五,本研究整合了多学科的研究路径,集合了多种定性研究方法,包括多地点民族志、移动方法、文化地图、协作研究以及美学和话语分析。第六,为了聚焦于建设性批评,本研究还将关注与创新和政治有关的紧迫问题。鉴于创新实践在中国的特殊地位,对创新推进社会发展的可能性进行系统研究,已成为一个急迫的议题。