Handbooks of Research on Contemporary China series
Edited by Michael Keane
Chapter 30: Editor’s introduction
The final part of this volume concerns itself with notions of place and identity, illustrated in design, film festivals and urban development strategies. As mentioned in the introduction to the book, and in more detail in Part II, the cultural and creative industries have become an abiding preoccupation of central, provincial and local governments, both from an economic development perspective and a nationalistic ‘strong cultural power’ strategy. The tangible elements of these ‘soft power’ industries have assumed priority: things that can be seen, measured, and ultimately exported signify that Chinese cultural power is on the ascendancy. While the ‘national project’ benefits from the labours of China’s cultural workers and artisans, the question of regional identity has assumed growing importance in a nation that is transforming while diversifying (see Sun 2012). By way of conclusion, the issues that we return to in this section are first, can China use culture and creativity to redesign and rebrand its global image; and second, how is creativity transferred within and across locales? The chapters that follow show that indigenous and grassroots identities are consolidating despite the tendencies to homogenize that have dogged development since the 1980s. In setting out the context for the discussion of cultural identity it is therefore worth briefly considering the notion of design. Attention to design can inject new life into mature markets and bring about diversification that leads to more profitable markets (Bruce 2009).
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