Panel 09 (Meinhof, Schönebeck, Zhang)

Filial piety as doing family in China

Panel organizers

Dr. Marius Meinhof (Goethe University Frankfurt)
Grete Schönebeck (Goethe University Frankfurt)
Yiming Zhang (Bielefeld University)



Panel abstract

Filial piety (xiao 孝) is one of the key sensemaking concepts employed in China to negotiate intergenerational relations and generation-specific roles within families. It has been part of state discourse in imperial times as well as in recent years. However, what can be called xiao (filial) is subject to negotiation. Our panel explores the way in which filial piety is negotiated in popular discourse and everyday life practice within family, and which consequences this has for doing family and doing generation, e.g. in terms of empowerment of members of different generations. We also analyse state propaganda and local government programs as one important context that shapes discourses on filial piety, and that tries to connect filial piety to nationalism, Chinese identity, and loyalty to the country. By doing so, we highlight the dynamic process of negotiating filiality and, in course of this, negotiating Chineseness.

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