China and Inner Asia
The notion of shame (chi) was embedded in modern Chinese culture as a device to identify “self” and “other,” normalcy and disorder, and the oppressor and the oppressed. The sense of “shame,” physically and symbolically, prevails the rhetoric about blindness in Cantonese operas, deformed bodies in famous trials, narratives of national humiliation in popular literature, and gambling on the Civil Service Examination. This panel explores the social and imaginary construction of shame in Chinese history, literature, theatre, and visual culture. This cross-disciplinary and multifaceted investigation shows how the sense of shame has been redefined throughout a series of social and political movements and manifested in different cultural forms. We hope to both uncover the trajectory and question the foundations of a “shame culture” that has permeated various social practices in the cultural life of late imperial and modern China.
En Li’s examination of the meritocracy in the official selection examinations and the gambling on the exams reveals that the two meritocracies were surprisingly compatible. Aubrey Tang investigates how blindness was used as a device by the sighted to express their forbidden desire without feeling ashamed in moralistic Cantonese culture. Peijie Mao’s study of the literature of humiliation demonstrates how the nationalization of shame bolstered China’s popular nationalism and national identity that took shape in early Republican China. Lu Liu researches the haptic and optical visuality of public shaming in the denunciation of the Gang of Four, arguing that a shame culture at once draws boundaries and invites intimate, embodied responses.
Paper Presenter: En Li – Drake University
Paper Presenter: Aubrey Tang – Chapman University
Paper Presenter: Peijie Mao – ShanghaiTech University
Paper Presenter: Lu Liu – Georgia Institute of Technology