Asian Studies and Chinese Language Assistant Professor Dr. Qingjun (Joan) Li and four of her students–Anna Croghan, Samantha Hubner, Joseph Minga and Ryan Pino–recently were awarded an ASIANetwork/Freeman Foundation Student-Faculty Fellows Grant. Of 27 team applications, only eight were selected for grants which will fully fund the team’s research project in China this summer.
“I am so excited about this invaluable research opportunity which allows me to take four of my remarkable students to China and work together with them for over three weeks. We all carry the great passion for China, and our study of the commodification of culture will result in new understandings about how Chinese culture is being made into a profitable industry. This is an intriguing project,” Li said.
The team will be in the People’s Republic of China for approximately four weeks in May and early June 2014. The research project, titled “The Commodification of Culture in China’s New Cultural Industry,” will examine the role of culture in China’s new cultural industry, which is a pillar economic commitment of over $172.95 billion or a full 2.78% of the country’s GDP.
Hubner said, “Having the opportunity to go abroad and conduct research in China as an undergrad, fully funded, is completely surreal. Dr. Li is such a dynamic and involved professor, and I think that I can speak for my teammates as well when I say that we could not be more thrilled to be working alongside her on this project.”
The team will pay particular attention to the way aspects of Chinese culture are being portrayed, modified and transmitted in the educational, recreational and entertainment developments in the “Legend of Emperor Qin” cultural show in Xi’an, the Wuhan Central Cultural District and the Wuxi Cultural Tourist City. The show will feature elaborate visuals and costumes, music and dance and will be performed in a high-tech 2,000 seat theater with the largest LED screen in China. Other cultural industry sites to be studied by the team include the new creation of the Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co., Ltd. The company’s CEO, Wang Jianlin, stands as the richest person in China with a worth exceeding $8 billion.
“I am thrilled to be working with a group of scholars that share the same passion for China and research as I do. With this opportunity to travel back to China to research the impact of the cultural tourism industry, I will be able to better understand the ever complex society and the economic impact of domestic tourism,” Minga says.
Li will be guiding each student in his/her research in different aspects of the overall project representing the convergence of the liberal arts study of culture with its commodification in the business industry of China.