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Special Feature

Ruinated Futurity: The “Dongbei Renaissance,” Literature, and Memory in the Digital Age

Shiqi Lin
p. 51-60

Abstract

Since the 2010s, the “Dongbei Renaissance” has emerged in China as a transmedial phenomenon driven by a cluster of cultural producers retelling the stories of their parents’ generation as laid-off workers during the tumultuous transition of Dongbei, or Northeast China, from a socialist industrial headquarter to a decadent urban ruin in the 1990s. With a focus on the translocal relevance of this cultural trend, this paper discusses the prominent role of literature and its synergy with digital media in transmitting repressed social memories across generations and shedding light on contemporary conditions of economic precarity. I propose the notion of “ruinated futurity” to characterise conceptual openings offered by this digitally-mediated literary boom in three dimensions: (1) a mnemonic future that resurrects the repressed memories of the silenced through transgenerational renarration; (2) a media future that reworks literature within a digital media ecology of remediation and interrelatedness, and (3) a socioeconomic future reoriented towards disposable populations beyond narratives of progress and development.

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Editor’s notes

Manuscript received on 17 November 2023. Accepted on 13 December 2023.

Excerpt

Full text document will be published online on December 2024.

Outline

Introduction: A cultural revival from urban ruins
Mnemonic futurity: Postmemorial constructions of history through literature
Media futurity: Digital remediation of literature
Disposable futures: Rethinking social trajectories from Dongbei
Conclusion

First lines

Introduction: A cultural revival from urban ruins

Since the 2010s, the “Dongbei Renaissance” (Dongbei wenyi fuxing 東北文藝復興) has emerged in China as a cultural boom across literature, arts, cinema, popular music, television shows, and digital media. Media products from this cultural trend shared a commitment of renarrating the tumultuous socioeconomic transitions of Northeast China (Dongbei 東北) from a socialist industrial centre to a decadent urban ruin in the long 1990s. Termed by the Dongbei-born rapper GEM (Dong Baoshi 董寶石) as a comic hyperbole in a 2019 internet standup comedy show, the Dongbei Renaissance went viral in Chinese popular discourse and captured a sense of anachronism as dynamic media cultures mushroomed from this site of post-industrial ruin decades after its economic downfall. For example, this cultural wave has spread from films by directors such as Diao Yinan 刁亦男 and Geng Jun 耿軍 to popular music by artists such as the rock band Second Hand Rose (ershou meigui 二手玫瑰)...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Shiqi Lin, Ruinated Futurity: The “Dongbei Renaissance,” Literature, and Memory in the Digital AgeChina Perspectives, 135 | 2023, 51-60.

Electronic reference

Shiqi Lin, Ruinated Futurity: The “Dongbei Renaissance,” Literature, and Memory in the Digital AgeChina Perspectives [Online], 135 | 2023, Online since 01 December 2024, connection on 04 March 2024. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/16219; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/chinaperspectives.16219

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About the author

Shiqi Lin

Shiqi Lin is a Klarman postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University, 375 Rockefeller Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, United States (shiqilin@cornell.edu).

By this author

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Copyright

The text and other elements (illustrations, imported files) are “All rights reserved”, unless otherwise stated.

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