Journeying into the business world... one undiscovered culture at a time

Welcome to [Per]Suit of Anthropology, a blog dedicated to the exploration of modern business trends and perspectives from the view of anthropologist, with a special emphasis on cultural understandings of work-life balance and disability rights in the workplace. This blog is a way for me to connect two sides of my professional self that I see in constant dialogue. Though the business world and the anthropological world may not believe it - they have more in common and more to learn from one another than readily acknowledged. Topics covered include: Western business practices and the impact of those decisions on socio-cultural institutions worldwide, invisible disabilities, Ignatian spirituality, work-life balance, and some discussion of issues of tourism and its impacts on culture, and common human capital practices in private industry and government.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Movie review of 洗澡 (Shower - 1999)

Greetings all!  My apologies for the delay in posting.  My mind was officially full after the AAA Conference, and I needed a few minutes to wrap my mind around all that I learned.   In the meantime, for my Chinese class, I watched the movie 洗澡, translated as "Shower."

To begin the translation is not the best, as the movie actually takes place in a public bath house in Beijing.  But it was a really interesting film, discussing the themes of parental love, devotion, disabilities and also the impact of rapid modernization on people's lives.

In the movie, a young man Da returns home after a letter written by his mentally handicapped younger brother, Er Ming, indicates that his father has died.  Upon returning home and realizing his father is very much alive, Da decides to hang around when he learns that their district is slated to be torn down for a new mall and residences.

The movie is decidedly male-centric, revolving around the relationships of fathers, sons and friends - and how they are all impacted by the upcoming move by the state to take over their area and raze it to the ground to make way for more development.  I found that this theme, the underlying tension of old versus new, tradition versus modernity, values versus money to be perhaps the most moving part of the story.

When I was in an undergraduate course in Anthropology on Modern China and its roles with minorities, one of the groups we studied were the persons in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities who were displaced due to recent construction.  One book in particular, Strangers in the City, I remember distinctly as it showed the tension of persons who've lived in neighborhoods for generations being displaced to make way for more modern development.  In the case of the author's research, these people were migrants from outside Beijing who took advantage of China's increasingly lax travel restrictions to find good paying jobs in the city.  This differs from the characters in the movie, who had been in Beijing for generations, running their own businesses and developing the relationships with both the land and the people around them.

But the entire process of relocation is an interesting topic to me, especially given the greater international spotlight on it during the lead up to the 2008 Olympics.  During that time. areas the government deemed to be too old, or slums, or considered to be the "unsightly" old parts of the city were destroyed for new construction, from everything from malls, new housing complexes, and even the Olympic stadium.

Now while modern is not always a bad thing (sometimes it is preferable), what I found interesting about the whole underlying theme of the movie and of reconstruction of China in general is that often what people want to see when they visit other countries are these more 'traditional' neighborhoods.  And in destroying them, not only are lives and lifestyles uprooted and shifted, but much more cultural richness is lost.  And that was the sad part of this movie.  At the end you felt as though you were closing the book on a chapter in history - that from that time forward no one would know the stories, the struggles, the joys and the pain that once existed in that spot.

I suppose it is all just a matter of time...