Description: This talk explores current US-China hostilities by framing them within China’s recent history and its transformation from socialist third-world country into a capitalist global powerhouse. This new rivalry is unlike the “Cold War” of the last century, as economic decoupling has proven near impossible. Such global connectedness, strikingly revealed by the Covid pandemic, is something we should emphasize and mobilize against nationalist demonization, in order to meaningfully address the urgent questions of military brinksmanship, economic inequality, and ecological devastation. This lecture was organized by the UCSB East Asia Center with generous support from the China Understanding and Peace Fund. Read more on this lecture here.
Description: Every time you eat, go for a run, or read a book, you are not the sole agent behind what you are doing, but are instead engaged in a process of co-creation – as much acted upon as acting? While this would be close to common sense for a Classical Chinese philosopher, it might seem counterintuitive to those of us raised in Western contexts. In this talk I invite the audience to challenge the ideology of individualism and rethink our notion of agency and agents in order to develop more effective courses of acting-along-with-others. We are co-constituted, co-acted, and co-dependent on others—from the air we breathe to the ground that affords our walking. If we start seeing the world like this, it has the potential to make things much better for the many life forms that inhabit this planet. Watch the recording here.
Description: This talk imagines a dialogue between Lu Xun and Eileen Chang, usually believed to belong to diametrically opposing camps, political vs. apolitical, left vs. right, feminist vs. feminine. I begin with Lu Xun’s What Happens after Nora Walks Out and compare his conception of this iconic New Woman with a few of his male “roamers.” [read more].
Professor Katherine Alexander (Asian Languages & Civilizations, University of Colorado)
Date: October 27, 2020
Description: Liu Xiang baojuan was perhaps the most widely reprinted precious scroll of the late Qing. In this talk, I propose a critical reassessment of this understudied text by focusing on features of its narrative style and structure that enhanced both its promotion of lay Buddhist practices and its entertainment value [read more].
Professor Sean Metzger (Theater, Film, and Television, UC Los Angeles)
Date: November 5, 2020
Description: “Oriental sensitivity” is a term introduced in The Chinese Atlantic: Seascapes and the Theatricality of Globalization, where it marks attention to the shifting demographics of Martinique and the activities of a tai chi club on the island [read more].
Professor Xiaojian Zhao (Asian American Studies, UC Santa Barbara, California)
Date: February 4, 2021
Description: Of all the political campaigns that reconfigured daily life in the first three decades of the People’s Republic of China, the “sent-down youth” movement that sent 17 million urban youth to live in rural China from 1968-1980 is one of the most vividly remembered and hotly debated. Reflected in popular and scholarly literature, the victimization of sent-down youth has been invoked to symbolize the suffering of all Chinese people during the Cultural Revolution [read more].
Professor Peter Eckersall (Theater, City University New York, New York)
Date: March 3, 2021
Description: This talk discusses the recent work of playwright and director Okada Toshiki (born 1973) and his theatre group chelfitsch. Okada is one of Japan’s most important artists working in the contemporary performance scene. His work is known for its innovative dramaturgy: for its colloquial and fragmented postdramatic texts and estranged, distended use of gesture and the body of the actor as site of exposure. [read more].
Professor Kelly Hammond (East Asian History, University of Arkansas)
Date: April 21, 2021
Description: This talk will examine some of the ways that the Japanese Empire curried favors to Muslims in China, and later throughout East Asia, in the lead up to and throughout World War II. Drawing on examples from my recent book, China’s Muslims and Japan’s Empire: Centering Islam in World War II, the talk will present viewers with concrete policies and explore some of the ways that the Japanese Government envisioned themselves as the benevolent protectors of Islam while at the same time advancing their imperial, expansionist visions [read more].
Professor Gordon Mathews (Anthropology, Chinese University of Hong Kong)
Date: May 13, 2021
Description: Only decades ago, the population of Guangzhou was almost wholly Chinese. Today, it is a truly global city, a place where people from around the world go to make new lives, find themselves, or further their careers. A large number of these migrants are small-scale traders from Africa who deal in Chinese goods – often knockoffs or copies of high-end branded items – to send back to their home countries. In The World in Guangzhou, Gordon Mathews explores the question of how the city became a center of “low-end globalization” and shows what we can learn from that experience about similar transformations elsewhere in the world [read more].
Professor Shao-yun Yang (History and East Asia Studies, Denison)
Date: May 27, 2021
Description: For much of the twentieth century, discussions of imperial-era Chinese identity were framed according to three conceptual categories then current in the social sciences: culture, race, and nation. In the 1980s, Western historians began shifting to a new conceptual framework: ethnicity. Despite skepticism in some quarters, ethnicity remains the framework within which most historians analyze politicized identities encompassing aspects of both culture and nation. But does “race” as a concept still have any place in this picture? [read more].