Reclaiming Culture: Infrastructure, Islands, and Art in the Shadow of Contemporary China

Chris Chan Research
Chris Chan
PhD Candidate
Anthropology

My research looks at how newly reclaimed spaces for art and culture become the sites and infrastructures of both cultural production and contestation on China’s pelagic borders.  Following a series of mobile artist communities in Hong Kong and Taiwan during a time of radical political change and pandemic-related isolation, I explore how the interventions of contemporary artists work with and against a greater infrastructural logic of political and cultural integration with China.  By taking islands as the starting point from which to view the China’s contemporary impact on the world, this study examines how contemporary culture is forged at the peripheries of land and sea and where overlapping tensions fuel an atmosphere where censored words no longer do justice to emotions that instead strike through the materialization of art.  By studying how local artists situate and maneuver their lives and choices in the face of imbricating political, cultural, and environmental changes on the islands of the South China Sea, this research focuses on how the making of contemporary art unfolds on the grounds of manufactured land and the reclaiming of “culture” lies both at the heart and at the surface of political calculations in a geopolitical world increasingly integrated within China’s developmental embrace. 

 

2021 Summer Research funded by Global Metropolitan Studies