Transnational Subjectivities (Lecture 6)


  1. That we are both individuals, as well as parts of a collection of groups, both national and transnational.
  2. Women become objectified, ironically becoming “slaves” to set themselves free.
  3. Neo-liberal economics allow for women to be able to become self sustaining and independent on a transnational level.
  4. That capitalism tricks us into wanting to buy things we don’t need, which comes at the expense of exploiting others.

An Essay Film is…

“To me, the essayistic is not about a particular generic fascination for voiceover or montage, the essayistic is dissatisfaction, it’s discontent with the duties of an image and the obligations of a sound. It’s dissatisfaction with what we expect a documentary to do especially.” (Kodwo Eshun)

  • Use picture/words/sounds to demonstrate
  • Not to repackage the lecture content
  • Try to connect different case study

Learning Objectives (Things going to be marked)

  1. Demonstrate knowledge that reflects holistic thinking, by being able to understand feeling as both individual, personal experiences and wider body politics.
  2. Understand complex bodies of thought that inform current theoretical concepts of subjectivity and be able to apply these in complex and agile ways across a range of case studies to produce new theory.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of a theory and practice based empathy with others, and be able to understand this empathy and interrelatedness as central to the formation of their own subjectivities in an international context.
  4. Show an ability to manage group work and the presentation of oneself in a professional context.
  5. Be creative in their practical skills, and able to capture meaning that moves knowledge beyond traditional academic values, by producing work that has multiple layers e.g. visceral, embodied, auditory, sensorial, affective and tactile, alongside its academic worth.

Action Plan

  • Research our own feelings and understandings to topics and theories to bring back to the group within two weeks.
  • Division of labour:
  • Lewis – Editing, camerawork, researching, writing, local knowledge
  • Mohamed – Editing, camerawork, director
  • Jing – Researching, writing
  • Ashleen – Post production (story boarding), camerawork, editing, acting
  • Zoie – Editing, camerawork, researching
  • Ivy – Editing, camerawork
  • Esther – Editing, camerawork, audio, lighting
  • Matilda – Acting, researching, writing, post production

Structure and Storytelling

  • Keep your audience in mind
  • What will they see? What will they think?
  • ✘ and then, and then, and then
  • ✔ money → capitalism → therefore…

Plan and Timeline

  • 14/12 – presenting the “first draft” narrative of our final essay film
  • How are we going to create the work?
  • Identify our own knowledge and strengths
  • Research visuals
  • Write a cross between a script and a essay

Group Argument for Essay Film

The argument that our group want to make about the content so far:

  1. That we are both individuals, as well as parts of a collection of groups, both national and transnational.
  2. Women become objectified, ironically becoming “slaves” to set themselves free.
  3. Neo-liberal economics allow for women to be able to become self sustaining and independent on a transnational level.
  4. That capitalism tricks us into wanting to buy things we don’t need, which comes at the expense of exploiting others.

Blood in the Mobile

Minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo are used in mobile phones. Congo is extremely poor despite all its natural resources.In the past 15 years, 5 million people have died as a consequence of civil war in DR Congo.

The UN have for years reported links between the minerals trade and the war.

Do our phones really contain minerals that finance war in the Congo? Nokia is renowned for their social responsibility, but no one willing to answer this question in Nokia headquarter. Are they using blood minerals? If that’s true it hardly matched their description as a human corporation.

The only safe way to fly in the Congo is with the UN peace-keeping forces. Goma in North Kivus seems like the right place to look for blood minerals. There is no other place in the world has so many UN peace-keeping troops. Their mission is to protect civilians against the violence of the armed groups.

The major in the UN headquarter did not talk about the groups are financed by mining when it has stated in UN reports. Maybe even the UN is threatened here and is careful about commenting on what goes on.

What is the connection between mining and the armed groups?

A group of Mai-Mai went to loot the diggers. Those who are digging in the forest but it is no idea that they digging for whom. Is it the Mai-Mai or the FDLR, who came back to try to take back what they consider their goods. Their coltan, their cassiterite…All the things they’re taking from Bisie. Who’s selling it? It was under control of the FDLR. And then came the Congolese business men. They used to come and buy and then bring it to Goma. From Goma to Rwanda or Uganda. And from Uganda to Europe. To do for mobile phones and computers. After that, from the money they buy guns to continue the war.

Soldier: “There is only one aim in the war – is to kill. It is much easier to do administration in a war than in peace. In the war, it is only to kill the enemy, and then get his uniform and gun. If you want peace, you must prepare a war.”

How the armed group make money on the mining? They let the local population do the hard work and then they impose taxes on everyone. To get in and out of the mining area you also have to pay money. In this place people die, so we can get mobile phones. People come from far away with a dream of making money but living expenses are so high due to the taxes from the armed groups that most people can’t afford to get out again. They are trapped here. Armed group came here and bullets were flying around. Then people died here. Every month people die in the mine holes when one of them collapses.

Isn’t this almost the same as slavery? There are hundreds all over East Congo. Bisie alone is estimated to produce for $70 million a year.

Today Nokia is one of the biggest corporations in the world. Every third phone on the planet is a Nokia. Nokia are market leaders on social responsibility. If they are using the blood minerals, the whole business is likely to do it.

Nokia have taken action since 2001 in this issue when they first became aware of the fact that a raw material called coltan coming from Congo can be turned into tantalum. The material is used in mobile phones, but also all other electronic products. They went to their suppliers and asked them can they trace where the tantalum comes from.They quickly realized that there is a huge challenge in tracing metals. There is no mechanism to determine where the raw material is coming from. It is difficult to tell that which part of a particular metal coming from which mine. They need mechanisms, and these they are now developing. There is a big challenge but it is a serious issue. They work on it, and hope there will be a resolution that will enable them to securely say that they have a responsible supply chain.

It is technically possible to trace the raw minerals. They must be traced before they are smelted into metals.

Break the link between natural resources and armed conflict. It is a long-term proposition. It takes years to put together an inter-governmental certification scheme. The idea is worth pursuing but not to the detriment of immediate action. The situation in eastern Congo is urgent. It needs both short term solutions that can change the situation on the ground and medium to long term solutions. The recommendation from several NGOs is to publish their supply chain.

As a global company and a market leader, Nokia have a responsibility to be part of the solution as a company but then also help drive things at an industry level. They are committed to improve their transparency.

Why would they hesitate doing anything about it? It costs them money. It is a wonder why they have not taken more steps on this minerals issue. They need to see more public pressure, before they will take action. Their workers in social responsibility department are appalled about what is going on in the Bisie mine. They do not want their company to be associated. They want to fix it but they tend to be some mid-level corporate responsibility person who does not have the authority or the budget, who does not have the ability to demand the resources that are commensurate to the problem in Congo.

If you make a phone that is conflict mineral free, we will buy it. Is there a difference between these demands? Transparency is one element of it, but it is not enough.

When you think of how you can stop the mayhem that is going on and awful things that are being perpetrated on women and children, the best thing is to get your hand on the money and stop it. We have to use minerals that have come from a traditional, legitimate source, not through the back door of these warlords stealing and using people and using it to fight a guerrilla warfare. You cannot reap the benefits of civilisation on the backs of that kind of cruelty and awful treatment of human beings. We have to do what we can to stop it.

Nokia have been working with the industry association GeSI which is a consortium of electronics manufacturers. They have commissioned a study and have been working with some of the NGOs. And they have discussed the issue with the suppliers of these metals. What they try to achieve in the first place is to scope the problem in its entirety, it is a comprehensive understanding of the flows of materials in the chain. There will be a solution ahead but it is not going to be easy or simple. It is a sustainable and long-term solution.

Transnational Subjectivities (Lecture 5)

Apples and Hauls

The “Global” Brand

  • Status, luxury, superior, innovative, cool
  • History of “cool”: calm and collected (15th Africa), to cool down → staying cold, col → tabacoo → cool (19th), itutu → ancient (west Africa)

14962342_10154339213704475_923483659_nCreative Class

  • Commodity designed for the hip, trendy, urban consumer
  • Creative “careers” in the arts, fashion, advertising, media
  • Give every undergrad students a MacBook Pro → industry standard
  • The only thing in your pocket is the only thing you need

Means of Production

  • Most production moving from Eastern Congo to East Asia
  • iSlave: Foxconn’s workforce is supplying the world’s leading electronic brands (lots of workers committed suicide)

Planned Obsolescence

  • Phoebus cartel
  • “desire to own something a little newer, a little better, a little sooner than is necessary” (Stevens, 1955, p.7)
  • Agbogbloshie: where the old technology go through
  • The electronic waste trail

Hauling and Unboxing Or, how ideology gets inside


  • Assembly line removes us from the producer
  • Alienates the maker from their product


  • “I shall then suggest that ideology ‘acts’ or ‘functions’ in such a way that it ‘recruits’ subjects among the individuals (it recruits them all), or ‘transforms’ the individuals into subjects (it transforms them all) by that very precise operation which I have called interpellation or hailing, and which can be imagined along the lines of the most commonplace everyday police (or other) hailing: ‘Hey, you there!’…I might add: what thus seems to take place outside ideology (to be precise, in the street), in reality takes place in ideology. What really takes place in ideology seems therefore to take place outside it.” (Althusser 1971, p.174)
  • Woman ideology: tell me not to sit like a man
  • Educational ideology: appear when I sit in ET building

Manifesto of Transnational Subjectivity


Through a series of case studies, I believe I can understand more about our societies and nation since I can explore the historical events as well as global environment. I can also understand myself in the global and digital aspect by knowing different cultural elements and the mass media.

To participate in the group discussion, we can combine our own experience with each other and have an overall understanding because we are from different countries and have different cultural background. I can develop my own subjectivities in an international context while I connect with them and learn from them. It is also an opportunity for us to work together and to demonstrate our own ability.

To accomplish my individual tasks, I can combine my own reflections and subjective experiences with my own culture and background, to develop my thought and ideas base on the topic that I have learned. I believe that it is also a great chance for me to use my practical skills to create meaningful and professional piece of work.

I will try my best to engage in the class activities as well as the individual and group work. Therefore, I will be able to understand what is transnational subjectivity and to fulfill the learning objectives of this module.

Transnational Subjectivities (Lecture 4)

Shanghi Baby

bridget-jones-babyBridget Jone’s Baby

  • Postfeminist (structure of feeling)
  • Inspiration: Pride and Prejuice

Cultural Sentiment

  • Disavowal of stereotype
  • Feminism as bodily property
  • Individualism and (consumer) choice

Biological Essentialism

  • Return to traditional values → men and women are fundamentally different (the particular roles of women like take care baby and cooking)
  • Heterosexist → reproduces ideals that are problematic for both men and women (body as a marker of success)

Human > Consumer

  • Education, water, health etc. → commercialised
  • Freedom, choice, empowerment > commodity


  • Empowered, postfeminist subjects vs. downtrodden victims of patriarchy
  • #bring back our girls

Intersectional Analysis

  • Multiple axis of differentiation
  • Intersect in historically specific contexts

Problematizing Whiteness

  • Whiteness as an “invisible” signifier → nameless
  • Power reasserts itself in complex ways → racial hierarchies


Beyoncé – the icon of black postfeminist

What dose Beyoncé represent?

  • The way that white people see black people
  • The self-awareness of black people

How does Beyoncé self-representation challenge and reinforce postfeminist femininity?

  • She uses her songs to show the power of women and to express that women can be part of the world, it is not all for men

Why is Beyoncé race made problematic?

  • She is a black people from Africa but she tried hard to get into the America world and to integrate their culture, this make people very appreciate her braveness.

Cultural Intelligibility

  • Recognition as a subject within symbolic
  • draw on cultural norms and discourses to perform identity
  • Means careful negotiation for non-white, non-Western, non-hetero, working class women

Transnational Postfeminism

  • Cultural hegemony
  • Shanghi Baby

Historical Context

  • Open door policy: free trade, opening itself to the world → economic neoliberalism and socialism
  • Changing gender relations → “feminism” as state policy, so different “post-feminism”

Video Montage

This video is about enterprising women and cultural hybridity. In the beginning, some Hong Kong girls are cosplaying. They dress up and makeup as different characters of Japanese anime. You can also see a British Youtuber who is turning herself to a famous character – Sailor Moon. Some of them treat online media as a marketplace to gain profit by delivering makeup tutorial. This shows the commodification of women. In the later part of this video,  a man is searching for a wife online, then he travels from United States to Russia and get married with a mail order bride. All of these are the demonstration of cultural crossovers.

Transnational Subjectivities (Lesson 3)

Enterprising Women

Dolls Makeupmaxresdefault

  • some women want to achieve the paint of dolls to be more attractive → but they do not look real → look like Barbie
  • most of them come from Ukraine → borrow the idea from America and East Asia (Japan)

Cultural Hybridity

What are you wearing? Where was it produced? Who produced it?

  • Most of our clothing, glasses, watch, scarf are from American/UK/European brands, but were made in some Asia countries, like China, Turkey, Indonesia, India, Thailand, etc.

What have you eaten? Where was it produced? Who produced it?

  • We have eaten local UK food, American fast food and Chinese food, they were produced in UK or some countries in Europe.

What technology are you using? Where was it produced? Who produced it?

  • Most of us are using smart phone and laptop from Apple and Samsung, which are the brands from America and Korea, but the products were produced in China.

Are there any patterns?

  • Western design, Eastern manufacture

Neoliberalism and the Entrepreneurial Self

The room is her own office, where she creates fairytale beauty (Anastasiya Shpagina, 2012)

Neoliberal Economy

  • Free trade → no trade barrier → all countries can export and import freely
  • Labour is not equal in all countries

Shaping Subjectivity

  • How we understand ourselves – subjectivity as economy
  • Two-way process: culture and subjectivity (outside-in and inside-out)

Companies of One

  • worked on ourselves as a project
  • all about profile, profit, investments and payoffs
  • “Shape-shifting portfolio person”

time-to-improveSelf Improvement

  • Expectations: always work on body and mind
  • Self transformation → failure (e.g. consumer culture, self-help)

Entrepreneurs of the Self

  • Active self + calculating self → better self

World of Work

Transnational Subjectivity

  • Flexible: bring work back to home
  • Precarious: low pay, creative labour, rebranded through the image of the worker, do what you love (interest → hobby → work)
  • Aesthetic: represent who we are by consumption, gap between public and private → narrow who we are is also what we do

Colonialism – Hong Kong


hk1From 1841 to 1997, Hong Kong was a British colony and the colonialism has shaped our subjectivity a lot.

First, Hong Kong was only a small fishing port with less natural resources. Then, after the British colonizers came to Hong Kong, they developed it to become a transhipment port, which was the important step for Hong Kong to turn into a finance and business city, and to have a rapid economic development. Today, only less people in Hong Kong are still doing agriculture and fishing. Almost everyone wants to devote into the financial sector because we are subjected to believe that those who are in this sector are the upper class in this society, and it is the essential factor for the community to develop as well.

Second, besides Chinese, English is another official language in Hong Kong. We have to learn English since kindergarten, and for the official and legal documents, if there is some contradiction or ambiguity between English version and Chinese version, the English version shall prevail. English is also a compulsory subject in all of the primary and secondary schools, and in universities, we only taught in English. Although Hong Kong has returned to China from 1997, we only learn Mandarin in primary school, and we speak Cantonese and use traditional Chinese rather than Mandarin and Simplified Chinese. In addition, there are two types of secondary school in Hong Kong, which is English as Medium of Instruction School (EMI) and Chinese as Medium of Instruction School (CMI). For those students who can go into an EMI are seen as  brilliant and more intelligent. If people who do not know English or not good at English, they are seen as uneducated, unskilled and uncompetitive. Today’s Hong Kong society generally more emphasis on English but not Chinese and we think that English can enhance our international competitiveness. This can show that how colonialism shaped our subjectivity powerfully.

Third, most of the Hong Kong people believe in Taoism, Buddhism or other Chinese folk religion before colonized. However, Christianity and Catholicism also become more common when Hong Kong become the British colony. This has made Hong Kong to be a city with high freedom of religion and beliefs. Apart from the above religions, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism are also very familiar.

There are both advantages and disadvantages of being colonized. We can see that the city has better development and the competitiveness is increasing. Nevertheless, some of the traditional cultures may disappear or be replaced.

list1_symphony-of-lightsHong Kong as a international and multicultural city, all of the people in different race can have same education opportunity and can enjoy the same rights, we would respect their religion and custom as well. Because of the coexistence of Chinese and Western cultures, we accept both traditional Chinese values and universal Western values. Therefore, there is no boundary between Hong Kong people and the other.

Transnational Subjectivities (Lecture 2)

Love, Internationalpinky-love

What is love?

  • Acceptance, trust, empathy, respect, to adore, sharing, romance, warm, powerful, responsibility, emotion, care, selfless, desire, rely on someone
  • Can be a person or a thing
  • Range of different feelings to someone/something → we do not know how to explain it
  • Marriage is to force love

Is love universal, essential? Do we all feel love in the same way?

  • Yes, love is universal and essential to make the world peaceful
  • But it is individual. We all show love and receive love in different ways and feel love differently expressed

What structures, institution, social relations shape love?

  • Church → god’s love
  • Charitable organisation → help those are in need

Orientalist Discourses

  • The West and the Rest (defined through otherness)