Bodies and Body Politics of China’s Northeastern Rust Belt

Yina Cao, Xudong Guo

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2022.003816
Published Date: Feb 28, 2022

Abstract

The old industrial zone in northeastern China—China’s rust belt region—is a fertile site to explore the body’s political significance in China’s industrial rises and falls. In recent years, writers in the rust belt region have been increasingly concerned about the social impact of the region’s economic decline, with Zhang Meng’s film The Piano in a Factory (2010) and Shuang Xuetao’s novella Moses on the Plain (2016) being the most representative. Taking these two artistic works as examples, this article discusses the implications of “organ” metaphors describing the “rust belt.” This article uses the perspective of body politics and proposes that although the social body takes economic growth as a nutrient, the rust belt is generally regarded in China as a dysfunctional organ. Such a view does not promote a sense of self-worth among the northeastern men but rather traps them within metaphors of death, decay, and decline. In addition, while examining the plight of men, the works of Zhang Meng and Shuang Xuetao also prove important for understanding the role of women in this post- industrial region.

Keywords

Northeastern China’s Old Industrial Base, Chinese literature and art research, rust belt landscape, body politics

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Professor
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faruk
Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)