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"filmagining" ethnicities: The making of a Chinese nation with film genres and styles between 1940 and 1963

Abstract

This article is about the movies from Chinese mainland under the production category of minority cinema (shaoshu minzu dianying), between the years 1940 and 1963. It argues that the taxonomic effort of grouping different non-Han ethnicities together into a single category of minority cinema is a sociopolitical attempt to construct, maintain and control the definition of ethnic minorities. It calls into question not what is within the film, but the classificatory practices outside of the film collectively engaged by the government, the film industry, the critics and the mass audience. Moving away from the methods of examining the representation and generic conventions of the cinema other scholarship has employed, this article emphasizes the classification system used during the time of the cinema. By comparing it with a similar classificatory problem in Western national history, using an epistemological perspective, this article criticizes the negative impact inevitably left in rhetorically driven classification systems.

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