History Department
History Department

Gender Symp.: "Fashioning China: Precarious creativity of women designers in Shanzhai culture" by Sara Liao, University of Texas at Austin

Fri, April 28, 2017 | GAR 1.102

12:00 PM - 2:00 PM

The History Department’s Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality Presents:

"Fashioning China: Precarious creativity of women designers in Shanzhai culture"

Featuring Sara Liao
Ph.D. Candidate in Media Studies
Department of Radio-TV-Film
University of Texas at Austin

This project examines a copycat culture called Shanzhai, particularly looking into fashion imitations made and circulated by a group of women designers through digital media. Drawing on feminist scholarship such as Angela McRobbie, Rosaline Gill and Lauren Berlant, I argue that women’s digital work in Shanzhai fashion is emblematic of the precarious creativity in the shifting cultural terrain of China, a condition where people aspire to the flexibility and autonomy of cultural expression, while nonetheless constrained by the same aspiration they yearn to fulfill. My project demonstrates that women designers in Shanzhai fashion industry are constantly in search of temporary balance between aspiration of digital work and systemic denial of their work, not to say encountering multiple struggles and negotiation between/of personal identity and subjectivity, patriarchal working environment, entrepreneurial sustainability, and networked fan-clientele. Precarious creativity, therefore, is a response constructed by and practiced through, rather than given to or emerged from, the people, the corporate, and the state in the contemporary conjuncture of multiple, overlapping, competing, reinforcing forces and transformations in China.

About the Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality:

Sponsored by: ​Symposium on Gender, History, and Sexuality, in the Department of History

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