Modern bodies in the making: Tales from a factory and a bar in South China

Eric Kit-wai Ma

in Desiring Hong Kong, Consuming South China

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9789888083459
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9789882209329 | DOI:
Modern bodies in the making: Tales from a factory and a bar in South China

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This chapter examines a disco bar and a toy factory in South China, and explores how modernity has its imprint on rural migrant workers in the city. The making of modern bodies involves the forced, calculative, flexible, and reflexive shuffling of time and space. It involves the manipulation of bodies, gestures, identities, and relations previously held together mainly by traditional ties. The making of modern bodies also triggers the desire to consume different lifestyles and develop new life-projects. The migrants' bodily adjustments to ‘live a modern life’ are heavily guided by the Western imagination, in which the vision of ‘cultural modernization as Westernization’ is compressed, hybridized, and domesticated, producing a Chinese version of non-West modernity that is conspicuously Western and capitalistic. In recent years, Hong Kong has faded into the background as one of the many forces in these processes of ‘modern bodies in the making’.

Keywords: Hong Kong; South China; bodies; gestures; lifestyles; consumption; Westernization; hybridization; modernity; tradition

Chapter.  10041 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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