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Forms, Histories, Identities

Dept of Film, Theatre & Television, University of Reading, UK

24th – 25th September 2011


Image: Gayle Chong Kwan, from the photographic series, Senscape Scotland (2009)

The aim of this conference is to examine diverse contestations and constructions of ‘British Chinese’ culture/’Chinese culture in Britain’ by facilitating dialogue among academics and practitioners across disciplines and art forms. How can the perceived homogeneity of ‘British Chinese’ culture be challenged to reflect the diversity of identities and experiences in the UK diaspora? Who plays a part in constructing these strands of culture and for whom are they constructed? What is the relationship between communal forms of identity and the individual identities of artists? To what extent do ethno-national discourses impact upon the making of work? Such contestations over culture are well known in other contexts (e.g. ‘black British’, ‘BrAsian’, Asian-American), but the debates over ‘British Chinese’ culture has yet to make significant impact in the public debate with no published books on this subject to date. This conference seeks to bring together academics and practitioners for the first time, from any discipline, to move debates forward on the contested nature of British Chinese culture.


Contesting ‘British Chinese’ Culture: Forms, Histories, Identities

Provisional conference schedule (subject to change)

DAY 1: Saturday 24th September

9.30 Registration and Coffee

10.00 Introduction

10.15 Keynote I: Greg Benton (University of Cardiff)

(Co-author of The Chinese in Britain, 1800-Present)

11.15 Tea Break

11.45 Panel I: Contesting Identities (Chair: Greg Benton)

Professor Miri Song (University of Kent)

Jiaqi Hou (University of Manchester)

Dr. David Wong (University of Reading) and Dr. Phebe Mann (University of East London)

1.15-2.15 Lunch 

A screening of the film Ping Pong (1986) will take place in the Cinema.

2.15 Keynote II: Gao Minglu (University of Pittsburgh)

(Author of Total Modernity and the Avant-Garde in Twentieth-Century Chinese Art)

3.15 Panel II: The Personal vs the National (Chair: Diana Yeh)

Dr. Katie Hill

susan pui san lok (artist)

Anthony Key (artist)

Bill Aitchison (theatre and performance artist)

5.15 Break

5.30 Performance by Kathy Hall from the London Jing Kun Opera Association

Videos by Mad for Real (Cai Yuan and Jian Jun Xi).

6.30 Public Lecture: Isaac Julien


Day II: Sunday 25th September 2011

10.00 Keynote III: Daphne Lei (University of California, Irvine)

(Author of Alternative Chinese Opera in the Age of Globalization)

11.00 Roundtable: Practitioners (Chair: susan pui san lok)

Kathy Hall, London Jing Kun Opera Association

Irene Ng, actress

Lucy Sheen, actress

Erika Tan, artist

Gayle Chong Kwan, artist

12.00-1.00 Lunch

1.00 Panel III: Institutions (Chair: Katie Hill)

Dr. Andy Willis (University of Salford) and Dr. Felicia Chan (University of Manchester)

Dr. Simone Knox (University of Reading)

Followed by a roundtable discussion with:

Sally Lai, Chief Executive of Chinese Arts Centre, Manchester

Tessa Jackson, Chief Executive of the Institute of International Visual Arts (iniva)

Erika Tan (artist)

3.00 Break

3.30 Parallel Sessions:

Panel IV: Place and Identity (Chair: Ashley Thorpe)

Dr. Lia Wen-Ching Liang (Tsinghua University)

Shengfang Chou (University of Warwick)

Dr. Felicia Chan (University of Manchester) and Dr. Andy Willis (University of Salford)

Dr. Amanda Rogers (Royal Holloway)

Panel V: Embodied Identities (Chair: Simone Knox)

Professor Helen Bailey and Sarah Waller (University of Bedfordshire)

Jonathan Chu (Kingston University)

Yuen Fong Ling (artist)

Dr. Kimho Ip (Free University, Berlin)

5.30 Closing Roundtable Discussion

6.15 Conference ends




Reading is only 25 minutes away from Central London (Paddington) and has direct coach and rail connections with London Heathrow and Gatwick Airports. For more information, please click here