Put Down the Hoe, Pick Up the Smartphone: The Emergence of Rural Internet Influencers in Contemporary China


Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Early Career Fellowships


East Asian Languages and Cultures & Film and Media

Named Award

Long Term


This project explores the emergence of rural mobile media user-cum-content-creators and their participation in shaping the myriad of new, flourishing, albeit controversial, cultural practices and visual aesthetics that are transforming Chinese media ecology. Shifting attention from the metropolitan center to the rural margins, this project interrogates two media practices and aesthetics popular among rural influencers : little-fresh portraiture and tuwei short videos and live-streams. I inquiry into the rural digital users and producers at the intersection of big-tech companies' and party-state's distinct agendas. This project casts light on the new subjectivities of Chinese peasantry mediated by digital media, and charts the changing political economic order of contemporary China.