© 2020

Chinese Independent Animation

Renegotiating Identity in Modern China


Part of the Palgrave Animation book series (PAANI)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Wenhai Zhou
    Pages 1-14
  3. Wenhai Zhou
    Pages 15-52
  4. Wenhai Zhou
    Pages 77-128
  5. Wenhai Zhou
    Pages 201-206
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 207-222

About this book


This study of ‘independent’ animation opens up a quietly subversive and vibrant dimension of contemporary Chinese culture which, hitherto, has not received as much attention as dissident art or political activism. Scholarly interest in Chinese animation has increased over the last decade, with attention paid to the conventional media circle of production, distribution and consumption. The ‘independent’ sector has been largely ignored however, until now. By focusing on distinctive independent artists like Pisan and Lei Lei, and situating their work within the present day media ecology, the author examines the relationship between the genre and the sociocultural transformation of contemporary China. Animation, the author argues, has a special significance, as the nature of the animation text is itself multilayered and given to multiple interpretations and avenues of engagement. Through an examination of the affordances of this ‘independent’ media entity, the author explores how this multifaceted cultural form reveals ambiguities that parallel contradictions in art and society. In so doing, independent animation provides a convenient ‘mirror’ for examining how recent social upheavals have been negotiated, and how certain practitioners have found effective ways for discussing the post-Socialist reality within the current political configuration.


Chinese Independent Animation Independent Ecology Post-Socialist Reality Ideology Chinese Modernity

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of WaikatoHamiltonNew Zealand

About the authors

Aaron Wenhai Zhou received his PhD in Screen and Media Studies at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. His research focuses on the realm of Chinese independent animation in context with sociocultural transformations during the post-socialist era. Currently, he is involved with the 8th of CIAFF (China Independent Animation Film Forum) working on different projects. His areas of research combine Chinese studies and media studies.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Chinese Independent Animation
  • Book Subtitle Renegotiating Identity in Modern China
  • Authors Wenhai Zhou
  • Series Title Palgrave Animation
  • Series Abbreviated Title Palgrave Animation
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Literature, Cultural and Media Studies Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-40696-7
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-40699-8
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-40697-4
  • Series ISSN 2523-8086
  • Series E-ISSN 2523-8094
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XII, 222
  • Number of Illustrations 42 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Animation
    Asian Cinema and TV
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“a much-needed close study of Chinese independent animation as a phenomenon. Wenhai Zhou uses an ambitious methodological framework to make sense of what can often seem a dauntingly nebulous new field, poles apart from the clear-cut canon of the Shanghai Animation Film Studio. Rather than constructing an artificially static model, Zhou embraces the dynamic nature of contemporary Chinese animation and offers a number of useful conceptualizations through which to study it.” (Isabel Galwey, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology) 

“Chinese Independent Animation is a valuable contribution to an area of animation studies previously neglected. Notions of national cinema are often problematic but here Aaron Wenhai Zhou addresses this in a thoughtful way, taking historic and cultural context into account. The inclusion of in-depth interviews makes this a vital resource for anyone interested in independent animation in both China and world-wide.” (Dr Nichola Dobson, Lecturer in Animation and Director of Postgraduate Research, University of Edinburgh)