[PAST EVENT] The Bellini Colloquium: Rubbish, documentary, psychoanalysis and contemporary China

November 21, 2013
3:30pm - 5pm
Washington Hall, Room 315
241 Jamestown Rd
Williamsburg, VA 23185Map this location

This presentation "Rubbish!" is part of Professor Hui's project that engages with fashion, documentary and new media to address rubbish as the repressed underside of Chinese consumer culture in the post-socialist era. In his investigation of the problem of waste, Wang Jiuliang, a Chinese artist-cum-political activist, rode his motorcycle and followed the trucks that transported the garbage to the waste management centers, incinerators and landfills. From 2008 to 2010, he visited 450-500 rubbish dumps in Beijing. After visiting a landfill site, he used a yellow sign to mark its location on Google Earth. After more than a year of hard work, he made a shocking discovery. Based on the distribution of the yellow signs on the map, Wang Jiuliang concluded that Beijing is surrounded, and almost engulfed, by rubbish. This led him to call his documentary Laji Weicheng (Beijing Besieged by Waste), which means "rubbish surrounds the city." In this presentation, Prof. Hui asks how the representation of rubbish and the scavenger in Wang Jiuliang's documentary Beijing Besieged by Waste (2011) can be treated as a productive site for political thinking. With reference to the theories of Sigmund Freud, Julia Kristeva, and Fredric Jameson, the presenter approaches the figuration of rubbish from different angles as the return of the repressed in the form of the uncanny, as the abject, and as the dialectic of ideology and an utopian impulse. Finally, Prof. Hui invoke Walter Benjamin's writings about history to contemplate the temporality of rubbish. He asks if the representation of rubbish can provide a different way to think about the global rise of China today.


Calvin Hui is Assistant Professor of Chinese Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at the College of William & Mary. In May 2013, he received his Ph.D. in Literature at Duke University, after completing his dissertation The People's Republic of Capitalism: The Making of the New Middle Class in Post-Socialist China. He also earned graduate certificates in East Asian Studies and Feminist Studies. His research and teaching focus on modern Chinese humanities (film, media and literature), critical theory and cultural studies, with a particular emphasis on Marxist theory, gender and sexuality studies, and post-colonial and ethnic studies.