‘Americaville’ Director On Jackson Hole’s Chinese Alter Ego

The resort community of Jackson Hole, China is inspired by a nostalgic image of the American Old West. The similarities go beyond just architecture.

by | Jan 22, 2020 | Culture, Film & TV

Surrounded by majestic mountain peaks, fresh air and the charm of the Old West, welcome to Jackson Hole, China. Two hours north of Beijing, this resort community is inspired by a nostalgic image of the American Old West. 

British filmmaker Adam James Smith will be screening his documentary Americaville about Jackson Hole, China, at the Center for the Arts on Friday, January 24. Smith heard about Jackson Hole, China, after releasing his first film about a different urban Chinese development when a colleague asked him if he’d heard of this “cowboy town” just two hours outside of Beijing.

Jackson Hole is not the only replica of a Western city in China. There is also a Paris of the East, replete with the Champs Elysées and the Eiffel Tower. And there is a town inspired by Bristol, England, and a replica of Venice too. Western style developments in China are not without controversy. 

President Xi Jinping even weighed in on the “duplicature” spreading in China, calling in 2016 for the end of “weird, oversized and xenocentric” architecture. The order also banned gated communities, like that of Jackson Hole, China. 

The similarities between the two communities abound, despite very different contexts, from exclusivity, to escapism, to idealizing the West. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Jackson Hole, China, are concepts. Fantasies maybe. But ultimately, home.

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About Emily Cohen

Emily has served as executive director of KHOL since June 2019. She has a background in ecological design and urban planning and has worked as a teacher on the US-Mexico border in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, as a policy wonk in Washington, DC and as a land use planner in Wyoming. She enjoys getting away from the operations side of radio to produce original stories about arts and culture in Jackson.

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