Some Observations on Cultural Opposites in Contemporary China: Kunming and Beijing Twenty Years Later

  • Vesna Vučinić-Nešković Department of Ethnology and Anthropology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade

Abstract

This paper considers the cultural opposites observed in various segments of Chinese culture during the author's three stays in China over a period of twenty years. The first and second stay, in 1986 and 1989 respectively, coincided with the initial period of the implementation of modernization reforms in China, when their results were just beginning to be felt. The third stay was in 2009, towards the end of the third decade of reform implementation, at the time of an already developed marketoriented communism. The paper's main thesis is that most of the phenomena observed in present-day urban China can be assigned to opposite categories, namely Chinese-Western and traditional- contemporary. Cultural opposites have been observed in the sphere of tourism and the behavior of both Chinese and foreign visitors, in the use of Chinese and English in notices and signs in public places, and in the promotion of traditional and modern architecture. In addition, they have been noted in the presentation of arts and crafts and industrial products, in the manner of consumption of hot drinks, and in the combining of Chinese and foreign cuisine. They are also evident in a Beijing Opera performance adapted both to the modern Chinese and to foreigners, and in the traditional Chinese exercises and western dances performed in public parks. In conclusion, the paper suggests that the process of establishing connections between China and the West is being carried on in a moderate and controlled way. In the globalization process cultural opposites coexist and merge, imparting new features to Chinese culture.
Published
2016-02-28

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