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When foreigners perform the Chinese nation: Televised global Chinese language competitions, China and the world

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)

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Abstract

In 1988, Caucasian Canadian Da Shan (aka Mark Rowswell) performed a comedic skit on China Central Television’s New Year’s gala, China’s highest rating television show, watched by an estimated 550 million viewers. Recognized for his fluent Mandarin skills and expert delivery, Da Shan (lit. Big Mountain) quickly become China’s biggest foreign celebrity, frequently appearing on national television and performing the highly skilled comic art of crosstalk (xiangsheng). Since Da Shan’s trailblazing appearance, foreign performances of Chinese language and cultural art forms have become common on China’s small screen. Using a combination of content analysis, informal interviews with producers and directors, as well as our own reflections on our experiences as participants on two televised Chinese language and culture competitions, this chapter investigates the political and discursive patterns underlying these spectacles of
foreigners performing Chineseness and reflects on how these shows position
China, its culture, and its place in the world.