China in the Global South and Gender/Sexual Politics: Commentaries on Un Cuento Chino

"Un Cuento Chino: China in the Global South and Gender/Sexual Politics"

In recent years, China has become the largest South-South cooperation provider and a major investor in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe. While China’s national “going out” policy (中国走出去) and its activities in the global South have been the subject of much critical commentary in the social sciences, scholars have not paid sufficient attention to the role of gender and sexuality in this process. Moreover, as these transformations are not just economic but also cultural, it is imperative to participate, as well as intervene, in the construction of narratives about China’s presence in Latin America and more generally in the Global South.

This collection of essays is the second installment of a cultural criticism series that began as a conversation between a group of scholars, activists, and NGO workers who participated in an international workshop, “China in the Global South: The Central Role of Gender and Sexuality,” which was convened by Lisa Rofel (UC Santa Cruz) and Huang Yingying (Renmin University of China) and held in Beijing from September 15 to 17, 2017. The first collection of essays considered a recent Chinese blockbuster, Wolf Warrior II, as an example of cultural productions that reflect and foster particular understandings of gender and sexuality as China reconfigures its relationship with the Global South. This time, we ask the participants to share their thoughts on a Latin American film that addresses the phenomenon from the other side.

Un Cuento Chino (Chinese Take-Away) is a 2011 Argentinian film directed by Sebastián Borensztein and the highest-grossing non-US film in Argentina of the year. It tells the story of an odd encounter and unexpected bond between an Argentinian loner and a young Chinese immigrant. The film explores a host of social issues, including Argentinian racism toward the Chinese, which are shaped by a long history of Chinese immigration to Argentina, as well as the more recent major investments of Chinese companies in Argentina for the purpose of extracting natural resources. Through different readings of Un Cuento Chino, the contributors to this collection offer an intellectual analysis of how China reimagines its position in the Global South, and how it does so through a specifically gendered and sexual set of representations and images.

- Petrus Liu and Lisa Rofel



Chinese: Download Commentary in Chinese

Spanish: forthcoming