Enchanted: Harry Potter and magical capitalism in urban China

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“Pottermania”, or the crazed transnational consumption of the most popular children's fantasy fiction series in publishing history, has swept across urban China. It took place along with the rapid emergence of the country's middle‐class culture since the 1990s, marked primarily by a robust consumer revolution constructed as both reality and global dream. Even before China's official membership in the World Trade Organization began, Harry Potter (translated into Chinese) had been widely popular in affluent urban centers, bringing a foreign cultural impact that accompanies the economic tidal waves promised by the accession to the WTO. This essay explores the relationships between local consumption of a transnational cultural text/intertext and the formation of an emerging social imaginary about the urban Chinese middle class. It suggests that the Potter series promotes an alternating valorization and critique of capitalist consumption, which provides young Chinese readers, growing up in the midst of a consumer revolution, with a dialectic of enchantment. It is argued that this enchantment presents a productive tension with which to theorize the current moment of Chinese consumerist capitalism. Copyright © 2008 The Centre for Chinese Media and Comparative Communication Research, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-155
JournalChinese Journal of Communication
Issue number2
Early online dateAug 2008
Publication statusPublished - 2008


Erni, J. N. (2008). Enchanted: Harry Potter and magical capitalism in urban China. Chinese Journal of Communication, 1(2), 138-155. doi: 10.1080/17544750802287828


  • Harry Potter
  • Globalization
  • Chinese consumerism
  • Commodity enchantment
  • Middle class identity


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