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Contemporary Re-emergence of the Qipao: Political Nationalism, Cultural Production and Popular Consumption of a Traditional Chinese Dress

  • Matthew Chew

The qipao ceased to be worn for everyday occasions afer the 1950s in the PRC and the late 1960s in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. But it has powerfully re-emerged in the last few years. This is puzzling considering the swiftness and broad scale of the re-emergence, and the qipao's recent history of being marginalized. Are the political and cultural elites responsible and what motivated them? Besides political and cultural nationalism, are there other reasons that have led a large number of people to resume wearing the qipao? This study finds that the state did not play a significant role in the qipao's re-emergence, that cultural producers and celebrities contributed much to it, and that the symbolic meanings of the modern historical qipao have been repackaged and now cater to a variety of consumers for very different reasons.

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The China Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0305-7410
  • EISSN: 1468-2648
  • URL: /core/journals/china-quarterly
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