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Article - post-print

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This article examines the representation of violence in Jia Zhangke's film A Touch of Sin (2013) in light of Žižek's theory of ‘objective violence’ and the wuxia tradition. Jia attempts to understand the rise of individual violent incidents during China's post-socialist transformations by laying out the social, historical and political milieus in which they take place. He unveils the Žižekian objective violence hidden in the realm of social normality, pinpointing the country's sins of collusion with the global capital to impose injustice on the poor and disadvantaged. Invoking the wuxia genre, Jia portrays the protagonists not so much as perpetrators of violence but as xia, knights-errant, who demonstrate a precious spirit of rebellion that the contemporary ethos tends to lack. Focusing on often overlooked emotional experiences, Jia offers a humanist insight into the depths of these people's despair, isolation and humiliation. Jia, thereby, makes his film a poignant critique of the dominant ideology that pushes neoliberal development regardless of its human costs.

Publisher Statement

This is an author-manuscript of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Chinese Cinemas. The published version of this record is available online at doi:

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