Li Ziqi Podcast
My name is Giuseppe Collia and you’re listening to the Greta Thunberg Fan Club.
Last Friday, February 21st, 2020, Professor Yang spoke to our Food Studies Capstone Seminar about Chinese YouTuber and social media influence, Li Ziqi.
We learned that Li Ziqi was born and raised in rural China by her grandparents, having lost her parents to illness and poverty. As she got older, like many Chinese people today, she decided to move to the city to seek better opportunities.
And actually, Li Ziqi’s migration to the city is not simply a Chinese phenomenon, but actually a tendency worldwide. In 2007, the number of people worldwide living in urban areas surpassed that of those living in rural areas. The US and more developed countries are at about 80% urban populations while less developed countries are around 50% – and there’s no sign of stopping.
But these are just trends. Sometimes, people decide to leave the city. In the US, New York City has seen large migrations out. Young people move in looking for nightlife and job opportunities just out of college, but tend to move out when they become middle class families. The fact of the matter is, it’s expensive, chaotic, and largely lawn-free, which for a lot of people’s preferences, is less than ideal when raising a family.
Aften a stint in the city working in restaurants and as a DJ, Li Ziqi also returned to rural life. But she wasn’t a married woman looking for a place to raise her children. In actuality, it was family that harked her home. Her grandfather had died and her grandmother was in poor health. She felt called back to care for her grandmother who had cared so much for her in her formative years.
This makes me think about my own situation. My father’s health is also waning and I feel somewhat called to assist him and the family in his care. Currently, my aunt and uncle care for him as I am in college, however as I am soon graduating, I feel pressure to move home to support them all.
Back home, she began to make videos that she would post online, both on YouTube and on the Chinese equivalent video uploading platform. Her videos today are a beautiful process of making food from scratch, sometimes from foraged or farmed ingredients, fermented at home, cooked and plated with incredible intent.
Some people see this as a poor representation of China. Li Ziqi paints a beautiful picture of rural China where many others live in poverty. Others think that Li Ziqi is creating an honorable outward facing image of China, presenting it well to the world.
Another representation in this case is the simplicity of Chinese culture and the care for family. The US is generally considered to be an individualistic society, putting a lot of influence on personal success, while China has historically been more collective, valuing the family. However research seems to suggest that China is becoming more individualistic in a time of rapid socioeconomic and political change in China.
Li Ziqi returned home to care for her grandmother, and I too feel the pressure to move home to care for my father. Is this a poor representation of new Chinese individual tendencies, or is this simply the tail end of a collective one? Will I go home to care for my father after graduation, or pursue my own life and ambitions? Is there right and wrong to morality here, or are these simply differing points of view based upon lived experience?