Alumni Spotlight: Fan Yang's Book Is Here

Alumni Spotlight: Fan Yang's Book Is Here

Congratulations to alumna Fan Yang, Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communication Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who just published her book Faked in China: Nation Branding, Counterfeit Culture, and Globalization

Please find below her abstract and Dr. Yang's responses to a brief exchange she had with graduate student Christine Rosenfeld


Faked in China Abstract 

Faked in China is a critical account of the cultural challenge faced by China following its accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. It traces the interactions between nation branding and counterfeit culture, two manifestations of the globalizing Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime that give rise to competing visions for the nation. Nation branding is a state-sanctioned policy, captured by the slogan "From Made in China to Created in China," which aims to transform China from a manufacturer of foreign goods into a nation that creates its own IPR-eligible brands. Counterfeit culture is the transnational making, selling, and buying of unauthorized products. This cultural dilemma of the postsocialist state demonstrates the unequal relations of power that persist in contemporary globalization.

Did this book evolve from your dissertation and did you have it in mind when you structured your dissertation?  

I did have this book in mind when structuring my dissertation. However, the project in its book form has evolved significantly from its dissertation stage. The “Chinese Dream” discourse analyzed in the final chapter of the book, for example, did not even gain momentum until a year after my graduation.

It is generally understood that the transition from dissertation to book requires a re-orientation toward “the market.” But perhaps the process is best treated as an opportunity to clarify the argument, sharpen the analyses, and better situate the work in the various fields and disciplines that the project is in conversation with.

You currently work in the Department of Media and Communication Studies at UMBC; what larger academic conversations in Media and Communication Studies, as well as Culture Studies, does your book draw from and intersect with?

I’m lucky to work in a department that values interdisciplinary scholarship. My colleagues and I are all committed to the critical examination of media artifacts and communicative forms in broader historical, social, and political-economic contexts. Coming from a Cultural Studies background, I am very interested in the recent formulation of “new materialism” in media studies, which offers a fascinating though perhaps not entirely “new” way to discuss culture in relation to media and its materiality. The approach I bring to brands and counterfeits as “cultures of circulation” in my book reflects this attention to “thingified” media in contemporary globalization. This concern with culture as (mediated) meaning-making practices is also demonstrated in the diverse artifacts and practices I’ve examined, from the discourses about new media technologies (e.g. Shanzhai or “bandit” cell phones) and piracy-inspired “national-popular” cinema to the legal disputes at an urban counterfeit market in Beijing.

At the same time, as someone inspired by the postcolonial strand of globalization studies, I think my work pays closer attention to the unequal relations of power - between the West and non-West, between the Global North and South - as they are manifested in (transnational) media cultures. The rising visibility of postsocialist China in an era of continuous U.S. global hegemony presents immense opportunities to reconsider such seemingly “old” questions as cultural imperialism. My hope is that this book, which seeks to re-position the Chinese state’s cultural dilemma as a “Third World problem,” may contribute to the decolonizing project championed by a growing number of postcolonial communication scholars. I’m excited to see the kinds of conversations it might generate among scholars in China/Asian Studies, Media and Communication Studies, American Studies, and Cultural Studies alike.