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Belinda Wai Chu Kong
Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME 04011-8447)
Totalitarian Power and Rising Capitalism in Recent Chinese Fiction

My project examines a recurrent trend in recent Chinese fiction: a spotlight on the body as a new vital site of political control and state profit. I argue that these "biocapitalist fictions" -- which probe the growing entanglement of the communist state's governance of bodily life with its capitalist goals -- directly challenge perceptions of a globalizing China as ever more liberal, where citizens are ever more free to exercise bodily integrity. While social scientists have long argued for the significance of China's modes of life governance, such theoretical work remains scant in literary scholarship, despite the proliferation of novels engaging with these issues. My project demonstrates how, against images of China's increasing liberalization, contemporary writers insist on the endurance and even expansion of totalitarianism in the era of Chinese capital, calling for renewed attention to totalitarian state power as it capitalizes on biological life itself.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Comparative Literature; East Asian Literature; Literary Criticism

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2014 – 8/31/2014