Chapter on The Wandering Earth

January 2022 – A new book edited by Irfan Ahmad and Jie Kang, in honour of the work of Peter van der Veer, titled The Nation Form in the Global Age – Ethnographic Perspectives, can be downloaded here for free. In the book, I have a chapter on The Wandering Earth, billed as CHina’s first sci-fi movie. Here you can download this chapter.

Abstract: In the 2019 Chinese sci-fi blockbuster The Wandering Earth by Frant Guo, audiences are catapulted into a dystopian 2061. The movie brings to mind a strong Hollywood genre style and history. This comparative logic runs the danger of accusing China of making a belated copy feeding into a desire to assert its Chineseness. Peter van der Veer has shown how pivotal comparative analyses are to understanding complexity and resisting generalizations. Anthropology is well equipped for this task, but as I argue in this chapter, so are cultural studies and cultural analysis. Drawing on Peter van der Veer’s work in tandem with Rey Chow, this chapter reads the movie as a translation of the sci-fi genre that betrays both its assumed origin and the copy.