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Cultural Performance in the Beijing Olympics: An Anthropological Approach

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Drawing on anthropological theories of ritual and state, as well as fieldwork data collected in Beijing, the paper examines two displays of cultural performance at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics respectively. Through a discussion of the ceremonies as public rituals communicating both the ancient and modern history of China, its philosophy and politics of ‘Harmony’, and the national sentiments arising from the country’s “hundred-year humiliation”, the paper hopes to provide an anthropological perspective to consider the emerging world power, as well as to extend the conceptual framework of ritual in the context of the Beijing Olympics.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group series.

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