Arts and Culture
Creativity has become a buzzword in popular, policy, and academic discourses today. In late-capitalist and developing countries alike, young people, in particular, are expected to become creative citizens who can usher a population, place, country, or region into a new creative economy in which stable long-term jobs are replaced with more flexible and precarious life trajectories. With its emergence as a global power, China aspires to move from “made in China” towards “created in China” (Keane 2011). Creativity and cultural production have become a crucial source for innovation and financial growth, but are also mobilised to promote a new and open China to both its citizenry as well as the outside world. They are part of what is termed China’s “soft power” (Nye 2004). What does creativity mean in the context of China, and what does it do? When both the state and profoundly globalised creative industries are so deeply implicated in the promotion of creativity, what are the possibilities of criticality, if any? What, in particular, about the unwanted creativities, like those coming from documentary makers that transgress the regime of the speakable and visible in China? What about the unlikely creative productions from farmers and factory workers, who post their videos on online platforms like Kuaishou? And how do unconventional practices, like experiments with font design that push the boundaries of Chinese calligraphy, relate to the imperative of creativity that haunts cultural production in China? And what role does affect play amongst emerging creative classes in China, and how is this related to mobility regimes? This panel engages with aspects of China’s turn to creativity that often remain in the shadow, that are obfuscated, but that at the same time can be so banal, so everyday, that they tend to be overlooked. The panel presents part of the outcomes of the project From ‘Made in China’ to ‘Created in China’ - A Comparative Study of Creative Practice and Production in Contemporary China, funded by a consolidator grant of the European Research Council (ERC).