Unconventional, creative, and highly original, Wang Min’an’s work centres on the assemblage of household machines that create the space of contemporary domesticity. It offers pathways to a new understanding of how the sudden commodification of domestic space in China beginning in the late 1980s has transformed Chinese domestic life beyond recognition. In terms of modern urban Chinese family life, people do not just move into new apartments; they move into new modes of living which involve new ways of relating to the world. Wang’s discussion on the reconstitution of Chinese domestic life—its founding moral, aesthetic, political values—is tremendously useful and enlightening.
In these essays, the author stages a Latourian collapse of subject and object in adopting the point of view of both human and non-human actants. This volume brings a new sensibility to bear on objects of modern everyday life. This work is not a "China book," but rather a work marked profoundly by China. Wang experiments with the applicability of "theory" to what might be thought of as a transcultural common life embedded in mundane technologies. The book is particularly concerned with rescuing everyday materiality and bodily life from the numb obscurity to which things have been relegated by modern consumerism and bourgeois hygiene.
This book is not an oddity from the mysterious East; it is a playful experiment in writing from a unique scholar, a leading thinker and theorist in the humanities in China, and will be of interest to scholars and students of East Asian, particularly Chinese, political and domestic studies.
1. Washing Machine
7. Electric Light
8. Contemporary Household Spatial Production
‘Postcolonial Politics’ is a series that publishes books that lie at the intersection of politics and postcolonial theory. That point of intersection once barely existed; its recent emergence is enabled, first, because a new form of ‘politics’ is beginning to make its appearance. Intellectual concerns that began life as a (yet unnamed) set of theoretical interventions from scholars largely working within the ‘New Humanities’ have now begun to migrate into the realm of politics. The result is politics with a difference, with a concern for the everyday, the ephemeral, the serendipitous and the unworldly. Second, postcolonial theory has raised a new set of concerns in relation to understandings of the non-West. At first these concerns and these questions found their home in literary studies, but they were also, always, political. Edward Said’s binary of ‘Europe and its other’ introduced us to a ‘style of thought’ that was as much political as it was cultural as much about the politics of knowledge as the production of knowledge, and as much about life on the street as about a philosophy of being, A new, broader and more reflexive understanding of politics, and a new style of thinking about the non-Western world, make it possible to ‘think’ politics through postcolonial theory, and to ‘do’ postcolonial theory in a fashion which picks up on its political implications.
Postcolonial Politics attempts to pick up on these myriad trails and disruptive practices. The series aims to help us read culture politically, read ‘difference’ concretely, and to problematise our ideas of the modern, the rational and the scientific by working at the margins of a knowledge system that is still logocentric and Eurocentric. This is where a postcolonial politics hopes to offer new and fresh visions of both the postcolonial and the political.