Jenny Chio

Assistant Professor

Office: 211 Anthropology - Research Leave Fall 2015

Phone: 404-727-7594


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  • PhD, University of California, Berkeley, 2009



  • Visual anthropology
  • Rural development
  • Media and modernity
  • Race, ethnicity, and nationalism
  • Tourism, migration, and globalization
  • Cultural heritage politics
  • Documentary film
  • China

My research focuses on rural social transformation, ethnic identity, modernity and modernization processes, tourism and migration, and documentary media practices.  I work primarily in the People's Republic of China. I am also an ethnographic filmmaker.

My first book, A Landscape of Travel: The Work of Tourism in Rural Ethnic China (University of Washington Press, 2014) explores the consequences of tourism development in two rural ethnic minority villages in China. In the book, I analyze the myriad challenges and possibilities confronted by villagers who are called upon to do the work of tourism. Through a detailed ethnography of the shifting significance of migration and rural mobility, the visual politics of tourism and photography, and the impact of touristic desires for exotic difference on village social relations, I argue that there is a newly emergent regime of labor and leisure in rural China today. As village residents are instructed to be more and more ethnic so as to better suit tourist desires, they are also confronted with new possibilities for and challenges to individual aspirations and community belonging. In addition to my book, I directed and produced an ethnographic film about the villages I study, 农家乐 Peasant Family Happiness (Berkeley Media, 2013), which won the 2013 David Plath Media Award given by the Society for East Asian Anthropology.

Now, my current research project focuses on local media production and consumption in ethnic minority communities, from semi-professional videographers in Guizhou who produce DVDs of ethnic performances and festivals to amateur rural, ethnic minority filmmakers who participate in community media training workshops. This new project seeks to better understand the lived experience of modernity in China's countryside through an ethnography of these rural media practices. For this project, I am drawing on scholarship from the fields of development studies, the anthropology of modernity, indigenous media and cultural heritage politics, and critical approaches to multiculturalism and ethnicity, as well ethnographic research in China with community media organizers, videographers, and visual anthropologists.

Service to the discipline is important to me, and from January 2016, I will be a co-editor for the journal Visual Anthropology Review. Additionally, I am on the Executive Program Committee for the 2016 American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting. Between 2009-2015, I served as an elected board member of the Society for Visual Anthropology (SVA). I co-directed the SVA Film and Media Festival in 2013 and 2014 with Harjant Gill, and I currently sit on the festival jury. This has been an amazing opportunity to see the innovative range of ethnographic media that is being produced around the world and to help bring some well-deserved attention to visual forms of scholarship and inquiry.


  • ANT 202 Concepts and Methods in Cultural Anthropology
  • ANT 280 Anthropological Perspectives: China
  • ANT 385 Special Topics: Visual Anthropology
  • ANT 385/EAS 385 Ethnicity and Nationalism in East Asia
  • ANT 585 Special Topics: Anthropology of Tourism
  • ANT 585 Special Topics: Global/Local Media
  • FILM 204 Introduction to Media Studies (Contributing Lecturer)
  • JPE 610 Jones Program in Ethics: Ethics of Ethnography (Contributing Lecturer)