New Subjects/New Objects: Visual Anthropology in Contemporary China

"New Subjects/New Objects: Visual Anthropology in Contemporary China," discussion with filmmakers Dr. Chen Xueli, Yunnan University, Li Xin, Yunnan Arts Institute, organized by Jenny Chio, Anthropology, Emory University

Time: April 7, 2016; 11:30am - 12:45pm

Location: Anthropology 105, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322

Event Description:

Alongside the most recent surge in independent documentary filmmaking in China today has been the resurgence of ethnographic filmmaking and visual anthropology at Chinese universities, particularly in Yunnan province where the highly regarded film festival, Yunfest, was held between 2003-2013. Dr. Chen Xueli, who directs the Visual Anthropology Laboratory at Yunnan University, and Li Xin, a documentary filmmaker who studied visual anthropology and now teaches new media arts at the Yunnan Arts Institute, will discuss their recent films and the development of new perspective and politics of anthropological filmmaking in China. Their films will be made available for viewing online and at Woodruff library prior to their visit.

About the participants:

Dr. CHEN Xueli is a visual anthropologist and ethnographic filmmaker. He is Associate Professor of Ethnology and Director of the Visual Anthropology Laboratory at Yunnan University, in Kunming, China. He is also one of the founding board members for the community media training organization, From Our Eyes (乡村之眼乡土文化研究中心). Dr. Chen has worked with numerous participatory media projects in rural ethnic minority communities since the 1990s. His films have been screened in China and Europe, and his most recently published book is Ethnography of Ethnographic Films: Reviewing No More Bound Feet and The Grandma with Bound Feet in My Hometown (Minzu Chubanshe, 2015). At Emory, Dr. Chen will discuss his recent documentary which traces the lives of women from rural Yunnan, twenty years after their participation in a community photography “Photovoice” project.

LI Xin completed graduate studies in visual anthropology at Yunnan University and teaches Media Arts at the Yunnan Arts Institute, in Kunming, China. His films have shown at festivals in Europe and China, and he has participated in invited workshops, residencies and fellowships in Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia. As a one of the co-founders and board members of From Our Eyes (乡村之眼乡土文化研究中心), he has worked with and trained first-time filmmakers from rural Yunnan, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Guangxi since 2009. During his visit to Emory, he will discuss his latest documentary film, Badi Dialogues, is based on his experiences filming in a Baiku Yao village in Nandan county, Guangxi, in March 2015.


Jenny CHIO is a cultural anthropologist and ethnographic filmmaker. She is an assistant professor of Anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Her current research examines vernacular media practices, including amateur and semi-professional videography and documentary filmmaking, in rural, ethnic minority communities in Guizhou, Yunnan, Guangxi, and Qinghai. She has also conducted extensive fieldwork on tourism, ethnicity, and rural development in China, published as her book A Landscape of Travel: The Work of Tourism in Rural Ethnic China (U Washington Press, 2014) and her film, 农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness (Berkeley Media, 2013).