The Great Han is an ethnographic study of the Han Clothing movement (Hanfu yundong), a neo-traditionalist and majority racial nationalist movement that has emerged in China since 2001. Participants come together both online and in person in cities across China to revitalize their utopian vision of the authentic “Great Han” and corresponding “real China” through pseudo-traditional ethnic dress, reinvented Confucian ritual, and anti-foreign sentiment. Employing close analysis of movement ideas and practices, this book finds that the movement’s “real China,” envisioning a pure, perfectly ordered, ethnically homogeneous, and secure society, is in fact an imaginary vision constructed in response to the challenging realities of the present. Yet this national imaginary is reproduced precisely through its own perpetual elusiveness. The Great Han is a pioneering analysis of Han identity, nationalism, and social movements in a rapidly changing China.
Kevin Carrico is Lecturer in the Department of International Studies (Modern Languages and Cultures) at Macquarie University and the translator of Tsering Woeser’s Tibet on Fire.
"A tremendously refreshing analysis of the Han imaginary, from masculinist visions of sexual purity to fantasies of racial oppression. Essential reading for all scholars of nationalism."—Frank Dikotter, Chair Professor of Humanities, University of Hong Kong
"Kevin Carrico shows how something as innocuous as clothing can be a profound expression of ethnic Chinese people's search for identity and a place in the modern world. With a novelist's eye for detail and dialogue, he describes the rise of this new movement to restore and recreate ethnic Chinese clothing as part of a broader movement for Chinese people to recover from the past century of cultural destruction."—Ian Johnson, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer and author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao
"This is ethnography at its best. By immersing himself in the often bizarre and poorly understood world of the Han clothing movement, Kevin Carrico helps us to better understand the complex transformations of a rapidly changing China, and how these changes give rise to the deep anxieties on which majority nationalism (and even blatant racism) are built. Any student of modern China will benefit enormously from the thought-provoking insights and engaging prose of this important new book."—James Leibold, Associate Professor of Politics and Asian Studies, La Trobe University