Papers on the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge

Friday
11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room 6

  • Paolo De Troia, Gabriele Tola, “Between Xinxiu yingjing, Shinshū yōkyō, and Shinshū takakyō—Some Remarks on the Origin of a Manuscript on Falconry”
  • Baoli Yang, “Meeting in Dunhuang: The Japanese Gaze at the Chinese Cultural Legacy and Modernisation of Sinology in Japan in the Early 20th Century”
  • Yating Yu, “Poirot and Beijing hua: Some Remarks on the Chinese Version of Guxin shengjing 古新聖経”
  • Yufei Zhou, “Transoceanic Contacts in the Making of Sinological Knowledge: The Case of Karl August Wittfogel’s Sojourn in Asia (1935–1937)”

Paolo De Troia, Gabriele Tola, “Between Xinxiu yingjing, Shinshū yōkyō, and Shinshū takakyō—Some Remarks on the Origin of a Manuscript on Falconry”

The authors present a manuscript on falconry: Xinxiu yingjing 新修鷹經 or, in Japanese, Shinshū yōkyō (also read as Shinshū takakyō). Various copies of the text, composed in different epochs, are stored in Japan. The manuscript is generally considered as composed in 818 and attributed to Saga emperor (Saga tennō 嵯峨天皇, 786–842; regnal years: 809–823).
The manuscript was written in Chinese; Xinxiu yingjing is a text of practical falconry and veterinary medicine and its contents range from the description of falconry and the species of falcons to the way of healing their diseases.
According to Edward Schafer (1959), even though Xinxiu yingjing is usually considered as composed in Japan during the ninth century, it might be a reworked edition of the Yingjing 鷹經, or the Classics of falconry. The latter is the oldest Chinese falconry text; it dates back to the Han dynasty and is today lost (Sanguo zhi, Wei, juan 9).
The authors will introduce the manuscript of Xinxiu yingjing, its editions and some later related works derived from it; the authors will also present some hypotheses on its alleged correlation with the Yingjing through an examination of its contents and of other relevant Japanese and Chinese sources.

Yating Yu, “Poirot and Beijing hua: Some Remarks on the Chinese Version of Guxin shengjing 古新聖経”

The paper focuses on Guxin shengjing 古新聖經 [The Old and New Testament], a text composed by the Jesuit painter and missionary Louis Antoine de Poirot (He Qingtai 賀清泰, 1735–1813). After a brief presentation of the text and of its role, the speaker presents the sources of terms Poirot used in Guxin shengjing. Through a linguistic analysis of nouns, adverbs, classifiers, and adjectives of Guxin shengjing, the speaker argues that Poirot mostly adopted the Beijing dialect (Beijing hua 北京話) of the 18th-century. Nevertheless, exactly because he served at the court during the reign of different emperors of the Qing Dynasty, he adopted also peculiar and rare expressions used only at the court and not present in Beijing dialect. The purpose of the speech is to demonstrate that, from a general point of view, Guxin Shengjing can be considered a text is written in Beijing dialect, using the lower of the three traditional styles (gaoti 高體, zhongti 中體, and diti 底體).

Baoli Yang, “Meeting in Dunhuang: The Japanese Gaze at the Chinese Cultural Legacy and Modernisation of Sinology in Japan in the Early 20th Century”

Thirty years after Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the term “Silk Road” in 1877, several foreign exploration teams, including the Japanese team lead by Kozui Otani (1876–1948), marched to northwest China and acquired pre-modern Eurasian cultural artefacts, including various valuable manuscripts, mural paintings, and excavated materials in Dunhuang, without being authorised to do so by the Chinese government. As a result, besides introducing the Dunhuang materials to the Japanese audience, these pursuits accumulated a sufficient amount of academic capital for the explorers and preconditioned the study of medieval China in Japan. On the other hand, the cultural heritage falling into foreigners’ hands devastated many Chinese scholars in Beijing and motivated them to petition for governmental protection of the rest of the cultural legacy, while scholars like Chen Yingque displayed indifference to the obsession with Chinese holding onto the artefacts. The dissemination of the Dunhuang cultural materials in Japan reflected how modern scholars viewed scholarship and defined Sinology in the modern East Asian context. However, in various later narratives recounting the discovery and dissemination of Dunhuang artefacts, a strong Chinese nationalist rhetoric obscured those plural agencies and multilayered effects which shaped the complicated process of globalising the knowledge of ancient China. My paper examines the competing discursive practices in the literature related to the Japanese acquisition and dissemination of Dunhuang cultural heritage through the lens of various biographies and memoirs. I argue that the Dunhuang manuscripts disseminated in Japan both reinforced the Japanese colonialist agenda and enhanced the globalist understanding among academicians.

Yufei Zhou, “Transoceanic Contacts in the Making of Sinological Knowledge: The Case of Karl August Wittfogel’s Sojourn in Asia (1935–1937)”

In May 1935, Karl August Wittfogel, the young Marxist China expert in exile, set out on his journey to East Asia. Together with his second wife Olga Lang, Wittfogel firstly toured Tokyo and Osaka, exploring the success story of this Asian nation’s transformation into a modern capitalist economy. On June 23, the couple arrived in the College of Chinese Studies in Beijing and launched their 2-year fieldwork in China. With the generous support from Peking Union Medical College, Beijing University, Institute of Pacific Relations and a number of other institutions, Wittfogel established his personal network with a variety of persons ranging from professional historians, China connoisseurs to intelligent agents and Communist activists. Backed up by his wide circle of acquaintances, Wittfogel started up after his return to the U.S. the “Chinese History Project”. This ambitious project existed in Columbia University and had given shelter to a large number of refugee Chinese historians during and after WWII.
This paper seeks to reconstruct Wittfogel’s experiences during his 27-months-sojourn in East Asia, focusing on his personal contacts with Asian and Western scholars during this period. The historical materials used in this paper include Wittfogel’s remarkably intensive exchange of letters with his mother Johanne Wittfogel during this period and his retrospective oral narratives recorded in 1966. The material also covers correspondence, published reviews, critics, and reminiscences from the related persons.

Mind the Gap

A Reappraisal of the Role of Sinology in China Studies
Friday
9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room 6

  • Organised by Li Huayu, Annie Ren
  • Annie Ren, “’New Sinology’ and its Implications for China Studies”
  • Huayu Li, “Gozan Studies: A New Perspective on Japanese Sinology in the Medieval Period”
  • Peilin Li, “Concentricity and Incremental Structure: Spatial Patterns in Zhu Yizun’s Yongwu ci
  • Alice Simionato, “’Our Corrective Views’: On the Multifaceted Purpose of the Manifesto of 1958”
  • Nicholas Loubere, Chair

In 1958, partly against the rise of the cold war era “area studies” and partly against the appropriation of Chinese culture by the Chinese Communist Party, four prominent scholars from Hong Kong and Taiwan jointly published a manifesto calling for a reappraisal of Sinology and for a renewed understanding of Chinese culture. This was the first in a series of calls for a more holistic and multifaceted understanding of China and the Sinophone world—an appeal that is more relevant than ever given that the study of China today has become synonymous with the study of the People’s Republic of China. Further adding to our concerns is the general academic trend of over-specialisation which means that China is often studied through the limited viewpoint of economists, political scientists, or gender studies specialists. More alarmingly, we are faced with the increasingly powerful Chinese party-state, which seeks to promote its own version of China and Chinese culture through various means such as the Confucius Institute. The goal of this panel is to address some of the challenges we face as scholars working in China today. It brings together scholars who have worked in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, Australia, and Europe, to discuss different traditions of sinological approach while also offering a general reflection on the future of Sinology as a discipline.

Annie Ren, “’New Sinology’ and its Implications for China Studies”

The establishment of the Australian National University (ANU) after the Second World War under a mandate to pursue scholarship “in relation to subjects of national importance to Australia”, saw the creation of a research school dedicated to the study of the Asia and Pacific region. This in turn produced a rich and varied community of scholars, translators, politicians, and economists who played a fundamental role in shaping Australia’s understanding of China, and its engagement with the Chinese world. While their positions varied, and their subject of study ranged trade policies to Song-dynasty lyrics, their engagement with China can be underpinned by a tradition known as “New Sinology” 後漢學, which calls for a holistic and multi-disciplinary understanding of China and the Sinophone world, based on strong foundations in both the classical and the modern Chinese language, and in depth understandings of China’s past and present. This paper will first provide an introduction to the background and development of “New Sinology” at ANU. It then argues for the relevancy of “New Sinology” in the study of China not just in Australia, but for the larger scholarly community. “New Sinology” not only represent a historical approach which sees China as a vibrant and living entity where present consciousness are shaped by its historical past, it is also a humanistic approach in its attempt to include China and its broader cultural world as part of our shared humanity.

Huayu Li, “Gozan Studies: A New Perspective on Japanese Sinology in the Medieval Period”

Compared to the Heian and Edo periods, little attention has been paid to Japanese Sinology in medieval period. During the Kamakura and Muromachi periods (1185–1573), hundreds of Zen monks travelled to China to study under well-known Zen masters of the time. Upton their return, only did they bring back religious practices, they also brought back new ideas on painting, calligraphy, and poetry. As a result, Chinese studies flourished in Zen temples—a large variety of Chinese books were published, and notes known as Shomono 抄物 on studying Chinese poetry were written. Zen monks also wrote Chinese poems that imitated the style of Song Dynasty poetry. This later became known as Gozan Bunka 五山文化 (culture of the Five Mountain Monasteries), which is a second climax in the study of Chinese culture in Japan. In the past ten years, “Gozan Studies” has become the new hotspot in Japanese Sinology as scholars delve into this previously undiscovered treasure trove of materials on Japan’s engagement with China and also the understanding Chinese studies in medieval Japan. This paper will provide a critical overview on the history of the “Gozan Studies” in East Asia and illustrate the transformation from “Tang-style” to “Song-style” in Chinese poems written by Japanese monks. Furthermore, this study will re-examine the possibility of incorporating “Gozan Literature” into so-called “broad concept of Chinese literature” in East Asia.

Peilin Li, “Concentricity and Incremental Structure: Spatial Patterns in Zhu Yizun’s Yongwu ci

When the allusive characteristics of the yongwuci 詠物詞 (poems in praise of things) were combined with the complex structure of “long tune” 長調, a delicate and elaborate form of ci-poetry was created. The focus of this paper is on a series of long tune yongwu ci by the early Qing dynasty poet Zhu Yizun 朱彝尊 (1629–1709). Zhu himself claimed that these poems were written in the style of the Yuefu Buti 樂府補題, a collection of musical ballads from the late Southern Song dynasty, but many of his critics saw the poems as highly unconventional. The traditional style of Chinese literary criticism, which is impressionistic and often fragmentary, makes it very hard to engage in a detailed and analytical study of Zhu Yizun’s yongwu ci and its relation to the Yuefu Buti. This paper uses the lenses of “Spatial Patterns” put forward by the Chinese-American scholar Kao Yu-kung 高友工and compares the rhythmic pattern and focus points of Zhu’s poems through a process of close reading to show the structural similarities between Zhu Yizun’s yongwu ci and the Yuefu Buti. In addition, this paper also offers a reflection on Kao Yu-kung’s theory and its impact on literary studies in places like Hong Kong and Taiwan. Being a Chinese-American scholar, Kao’s theory occupies a unique position in sinological studies and provides inspiration for generations of young scholars to come.

Alice Simionato, “’Our Corrective Views’: On the Multifaceted Purpose of the Manifesto of 1958”

The well-known Manifesto of 1958 represents a great project of cultural reconstruction, but the stated purpose of the text “is primarily to benefit Western intellectuals in aiding them to appreciate Chinese culture”. At the same time, the authors explain that “Any attempt to modify Westerners’ prejudices toward our culture should be based first on our own true evaluation and self-examination”. The twelve sections of the Manifesto are concise while, at the same time, examining the authors’ view on a great variety of topics such as Chinese contemporary politics, religion, scientific development, and philosophy. The latter, in particular, is of great relevance since the terms “Chinese culture”—as discussed by other scholars such as John Makeham and Jesus Solé-Farràs—are used throughout the document as a synonym for Confucianism. With these premises in mind, this paper examines the purpose of cultural reconstruction advocated by the Manifesto of 1958. In particular, it argues that the authors of the document advocate for a recognition of the fundamental continuity which characterises Chinese thought throughout its development, whether it be past or contemporary. On the one hand, the document represents a reaction to the denial of tradition proper of the Maoist era while, on the other hand, it offers ‘corrective views’ to Western intellectuals who, according to the authors—enter the study of Chinese culture as if it was a museum piece, instead of a living organism. Since this tendency is still present in contemporary scholarship, the authors’ discussion remains of great relevance.

Coming up with Terms of History

Ethnography as Method and its Significance
Thursday
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm

  • Organised by Yang Shen
  • Jacob Tischer, Chair
  • Yang Shen, “The Appearance of History: Approaching Lottery Divination in Chinese Buddhist Temples in China Today”
  • Jacob Tischer, “Making History in the Field: Appropriating Pak-koan Ritual Music from the Central Margins of Modern Taipei”
  • Ruslan Yusupov, “Semiotics of Authenticity: Islamic Signs and the Question of History in the Xi Jinping Era China”
  • Daniel Murray, “A Spatial History of Communal Temples: Urban Anthropology and Local Historical Documents in Xiamen”

Chinese Studies have much potential to contribute to general reflections about perceptions of history, historical imagination, and history-writing. As anthropologists, we are interested in pushing this potential by using ethnography as a reflexive practice of historical inquiry. While recognising the history-making potential of any human being, we emphasise that the making of history also depends on the meaning-making of history. Hence, ethnography—which is based on fieldwork participation among the people who produce and manage the meaning of history in their own ways—gives scholars a unique footing to discuss the problem of history as it is experienced by those who live through their times. The panel draws together the concerns of diverse interlocutors who we encountered through fieldwork, ranging from average temple-goers in Chinese Buddhist temples, Taiwanese ritual musicians, southwestern Muslims, neighbourhood temple attendees, and so on and consider how they understand, talk about, and engage with terms of history. At what kind of moment in history do these various actors perceive themselves to be living? How do they account for their practices in the midst of controversies, suspicion, cynicism, and/or denials? In each case, how do our interlocutors negotiate the significance of past and present and mark their presence in a future that is historically convincing? Instead of projecting any meta-narrative of religion, we focus on how our interlocutors situate their practices in a history that is meaningful to—hence, part of—themselves. In this way, we provide an anthropological ground to rethink the historiography of Chinese Studies.

Yang Shen, “The Appearance of History: Approaching Lottery Divination in Chinese Buddhist Temples in China Today”

In late socialist China, divinatory arts persist, although the stigma of “superstition” still overshadows the public accounts of divination. What is at stake is the public representation of a popular potential. The socialist teleology of modernity poses only select rationalists as “pioneers” in history and leaders of the future. Accordingly, it freezes popular divinatory activities in an image of a past “residue” that is doomed for demise. Then, what accounts are empirically produced when divination is seen as a force in current history and affecting one’s relation to the past and future? In Temple Commons, a Chinese Buddhist temple in the City of Glory in East China, and its branch temple in the city’s rural outskirts, the presence and the absence of divination triggered vastly contrasting emotions, conflicting views, uneasy ambivalence, heated disputes, and immediate reactions. The controversy surrounds the practice of “seeking efficacious lot” (qiu lingqian) or lottery divination, which involves a self-help diviner shaking a hand-size container of wooden sticks until only one lot emerges. The paper investigates various stances approaching lottery divination in contemporary Buddhist temples and discusses how temple encounters disrupt a stereotypic discourse of divination. It suggests that temples’ non-discursive spaces are crucial because they allow public contacts of divinatory performance, which, in turn, dissolves ideological abstractions and make biographies and lives the centre of talk about divination. With these fragmented but meaningful personal conversations, we might re-imagine the appearance of history as a play of possibilities.

Jacob Tischer, “Making History in the Field: Appropriating Pak-koan Ritual Music from the Central Margins of Modern Taipei”

This proposal engages two questions: Does anthropology, especially in its post-colonial guise, have something to offer Chinese Studies beyond contributing a methodology? And: What place does Taiwan occupy in relation to China? Doing ethnographic fieldwork with younger adults in Taiwan shows that the latter question not only occupies researchers but also their interlocutors, who have to navigate the role of (Chinese) traditions in the framework of a modern, sovereign, democratic state and an increasingly localising society. In this paper, I analyse how the members of a religious association playing Pak-koan 北管 music negotiate questions of identity that arise from the historically and geographically Chinese origins of their brand of music, its traditional cosmological backgrounds, and their application of this music in a modern, urban context in contemporary Taipei. In part, their struggles reflect contradictions inherent in Taiwanese modernity, in which political institutions promote cultural expressions, including Pak-koan music troupes, as living traditions that authenticate and anchor—“centralise”—Taiwanese history in concrete practices. At the same time, runaway modernisation shapes distinctly urban attitudes, expectations, and stigmata among residents regarding noise, privacy, and individual-based cultural consumption. The changing preferences of urban denizens create pressures on religious troupes to adapt and innovate, thereby driving cultural change, while also implicitly undermining—“marginalising”—the ability of troupes to uphold the traditions so prized as authenticating practices.

Ruslan Yusupov, “Semiotics of Authenticity: Islamic Signs and the Question of History in the Xi Jinping Era China”

Muslim communities in China have for centuries used qingzhen sign to mark the religious safety of their eateries and food in the wider society characterised by the cultural valorisation of pork and alcohol. However, the increasing appearance of halal sign alongside qingzhen in the past two decades has recently attracted the suspicion of the current Chinese government. Equating this novel phenomenon to the worrying trend of Arabisation and Saudisation, it has embarked on an ambitious campaign to clamp down on the proliferation of halal and thus to recuperate the “pristine” Chinese Islam from the otherwise radical influence from abroad. Drawing on the interviews with Chinese Muslims, this paper shows, however, that this campaign loses sight of the Maoist China history during which Islam was instrumentalised to create ethnic Muslim minorities separate from the Han majority. As Islam became ethicised, qingzhen has lost its religious credibility, the very credibility that the adoption of halal is now aimed at remedying. It then follows that by pitching Arabic signs against Chinese ones, the Chinese state is actually neglecting the period that was critical for its own formation. By looking at how Chinese Muslims enduring through the campaign historicise the claims of the government, this paper thinks about how anthropology might provide critical historical insight that is indispensable for our understanding of contemporary China.

Daniel Murray, “A Spatial History of Communal Temples: Urban Anthropology and Local Historical Documents in Xiamen”

Over the past thirty years, the shift towards local and regional histories of China has developed substantial new perspectives of late imperial society and culture. This work has brought together the study of local documents, such as land deeds, genealogies, stone inscriptions, and liturgical manuscripts, with fieldwork conducted where these texts were composed. Yet, despite the progress made through this interdisciplinary research, these studies generally do not account for the events of the twentieth-century or contemporary situations. This paper attempts to address modernity in China through a history of infrastructures and urbanisation, rather than secularisation. I use Xiamen, a coastal city in southeast China, as an example of the multiple waves of infrastructure projects that occurred over the past hundred years from Overseas Chinese business people, local and national governments, and the return of overseas investment since the 1980s. Each wave of development has had differing relations to the existing structures of local organising such as communal temples and lineage halls. To construct this history, I draw on local historical documents produced by communal temples (stone inscriptions and temple gazetteers) gathered during fieldwork as well as sources about urban planning and development. By thinking these two sets of documents together, I avoid presenting ritual in opposition to modern infrastructure and present communal temples and their participants as actors in urban history. This then leads to a consideration of how temple attendees today present the history of their communities and their potential futures.

Papers on Labour

Thursday
9:00 am – 10:45 pm
Room 6

  • Linzhi Zhang, “Creating Art Dealership in China: Strategic Action in a New Market”
  • Ryanne Flock, “Beyond the hukou System: Marginalisation Processes in Urban China Shown through the Perspective of Public Space”
  • Qiujie Chen, “Escaping Metropolis: Lifestyle Migration as a Cultural Practice in Contemporary China”
  • Konstantinos Tsimonis, Igor Rogelja, “Labour Practices Across China’s Balkan Corridor: Embeddedness and Adaptation”

Linzhi Zhang, “Creating Art Dealership in China: Strategic Action in a New Market”

The meteoric development of art markets in China has attracted much media attention but relevant academic research remains scarce. The very few existing studies focus primarily on how institutions of Western origin such as galleries and auction houses diffused in China. In particular, a new-institutional perspective regards the creation of Chinese art markets as a process of imitation and limits Chinese dealers’ actions to mimesis and unintended failures in attempts to reach Western standards. Little justice has been done to the agency of local dealers. As a remedy, turning towards a framework that views markets as strategic action fields (Fligstein and McAdam 2011), this paper explains how Chinese dealers created a primary market of contemporary art by solving problems unique in the Chinese context. No ready solutions to these problems can be found by imitating Western galleries, which enjoy the benefits of widely-accepted regulations on competition in established markets. I argue that Chinse dealers rely on the networks they built, and the practical competence they developed from the exact practice of running their galleries. My explanations draw upon interviews with 15 dealers who opened the first galleries (between 1997 and 2006) in China and 20 artists who collaborated with these dealers. Unpacking the process through which Chinese dealers created an intermediary position between artists and buyers, this paper provides a much-needed qualitative understanding of art market formation in China.

Ryanne Flock, “Beyond the hukou System: Marginalisation Processes in Urban China Shown through the Perspective of Public Space”

In many developing and emerging economies, rural migrants are part of the urban poor, and many scholars argue: Those who earn their living on the street—collect trash, panhandle for money, offer services, or sell goods—have no alternative. Is this true for Chinese cities too? Are street vendors including fortune-tellers and beggars—who all depend on access to public space—the most marginalised among the unfortunate rural migrants?
This paper approaches this question by taking Guangzhou as a case study. The data is derived from fieldwork conducted between 2011 and 2014, including half-structured interviews with 52 street vendors plus fortune tellers, and with 42 beggars on their motivation, socio-economic background and urban integration. The academic interest in these social groups is still in its infancy. Thus, this paper offers new data and gives a more complex picture of the actors in Guangzhou’s informal street economy. It argues against common assumptions such as their lack of alternatives, low access barriers, or the formation of “gangs.” Moreover, instead of absolute concepts such as poverty lines or the idea of a definite exclusion through the rural hukou, this article focuses on marginalisation as a process which is based on institutional, social, economic and spatial factors. From street vendors in general to mobile fortune tellers in particular, to beggars, it elucidates their vulnerability and the threatening downward spiral. Eventually, to limit the access to urban public space comes to the fore as an important driver of marginalisation.

Qiujie Chen, “Escaping Metropolis: Lifestyle Migration as a Cultural Practice in Contemporary China”

Since around 2006, the emerging presence of lifestyle migrants with their hostel businesses in Lhasa city, the provincial seat of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), has shown disproportionately wide cultural influence across the country, has become the new jewel in the crown of Tibetan tourism, with many questions still to be answered: Who are these lifestyle migrants, for what purpose are they moving to Lhasa, and what do their daily lives look like once they have arrived? To decipher this phenomenon, three fieldworks have been conducted throughout 2018–2020 in Lhasa city. The collected data reveals key features of this group regarding their age, gender, education background, relocation strategies, and daily life, etc. It further provides a lens to examine the history of their presence in the city, unveiling both similarities and surprising differences between this group and its counterparts elsewhere in the world, as documented by scholars. By further placing this lifestyle migration in contemporary Chinese society in a broader socio-historical context, this study reveals the interlocking elements between the migration practice and the traditional Chinese culture of the elite—elements that reshape the image of contemporary Lhasa for Chinese tourists by partially incorporating its imagery into the elite culture, by which it largely contributes to the development of the regional tourism economy. Additionally, the study of lifestyle migration in Lhasa provides us with a possible new perspective for a more comprehensive understanding of tourism in China in general.

Konstantinos Tsimonis, Igor Rogelja, “Labour Practices Across China’s Balkan Corridor: Embeddedness and Adaptation”

This paper discusses the findings of a research project funded by the British Academy investigating the impact of Chinese investment on labour alongside the western end of the Belt and Road Initiative. Spanning both the European Union and non-EU labour regimes, the so-called “Balkan Corridor” is a key case study in examining whether Chinese investment creates downward pressures on labour standards. The paper traces the development of Chinese investments in the region, and the ways local actors interact with, adapt or contest the labour, and managerial practices that Chinese companies introduce.
Through in-depth interviews with unions, subcontractors, and regulators, we examine three key investments by Chinese SOEs: the acquisitions of Piraeus Port by COSCO, Serbia’s Smederevo steel plant by HeSteel, and Slovenia’s Gorenje appliance maker by HiSense. Our research reveals a more complex reality than the commonly-held perception of the Chinese as inherently exploitative investors and of host states as “weak” and dependent. On the contrary, we find ample evidence to support Ching Kwan Lee’s thesis (2017) regarding the “profit optimization” strategy of Chinese (state) capital that empowers the agency of local actors to protect their interests. Moreover, we find that labour practices are shaped in locally embedded relationships between business actors, host states and regional organisations, as well as Chinese investors. The cases examined thus demonstrate that labour-capital relations depend on the form of embeddedness of Chinese investors in local contexts which involve contingent modes of adaptation.

Papers on Sinophone Worlds

Thursday
11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room 6

  • Jessica Ka Yee Chan, “The Voice of Bruce Lee”
  • Cui Zhou, “Can Cinematic Forms Affect the Other? Problematising the Soundscape of the film On the Hunting Ground (dir. Tian Zhuangzhuang, 1984)”
  • Guowen Shang, “Norwegian Soul in Chinese Body: A Study of Chinese Adopted Norwegian Students’ Perception of Chinese Identity”
  • Carsten Schäfer, “Hong Kong Redefined: Identity Politics between Localism, Transnationalism, and Chinese Nationalism”

Jessica Ka Yee Chan, “The Voice of Bruce Lee”

Although fluent in Cantonese and English, Bruce Lee’s original voice is rarely heard in his film. Out of the films that Bruce Lee completed, the only one that features his original voice (in English dialogue) is Enter the Dragon (1973). As a record of his living, rarely heard, and irreplaceable voice, Bruce Lee’s signature scream, in his own voice, has acquired charisma, capturing colonial angst, and raw emotions.
This essay traces the (missing) voice of Bruce Lee and reveals the creative tension between dubbing and subtitling, symptomatic of the negotiation between spoken dialects (Cantonese), written languages (Chinese and English), and competing mother tongues in Hong Kong cinema. Typically shot without sound, Hong Kong action films in the 1960s and 70s were often dubbed in Mandarin during post-production for the Mandarin language market. A bilingual subtitling system, in Chinese and English, reduced the cost of dubbing in multiple tracks for multiple dialects and maximised profit by appealing to overseas market, especially Southeast Asia, where various Chinese dialects and English were spoken. Through a close reading of image, sound, and script (subtitles), this essay examines the understudied role of dubbing and subtitling in making Bruce Lee a kungfu icon and transnational star.

Cui Zhou, “Can Cinematic Forms Affect the Other? Problematising the Soundscape of the film On the Hunting Ground (dir. Tian Zhuangzhuang, 1984)”

As a significant director of the so-called Fifth Generation in China, Tian Zhuangzhuang first established his reputation by producing two 1980s ethnic minority films: On the Hunting Ground and The Horse Thief. Even though scholars have affirmed Tian’s innovative experiments in the aspect of cinematic forms, they seldom dig into the complex effects and functions of Tian’s intriguing audio-visual strategies. It is the time to listen to the silenced stories hidden behind the forms and reflect how these stories can renew one’s understanding of the ethnic issues in 1980s China. Using On the Hunting Ground as an example, this article centres on the perspective of the soundscape to understand the function of Tian’s formal experiments in the 1980s. Tian’s double-layered soundtrack, which lays a monotone male Mandarin translation over all the Mongolian dialogues, serves as the focal point. I argue that this peculiar auditory design not only reveals the Han-centric hierarchy but also, more importantly, constructs a reflexive space and a new point-of-audition, which exposes the Han to the moviegoing experience of ethnic minorities in Socialist China. Thus, Tian deviates from the stereotyped Han-centric point of view of Socialist minority films and puts the minorities’ experience in the centre. Further, the film’s complicated soundscape and narrative austerity distract audiences from the conventional pleasure deriving from dramatic narration and instead stimulate their sensation and sensibility to feel the sound and the image. In this way, Tian explores how form can affect audiences and whether the Han and non-Han, who have many cultural differences, can share each other’s subject positions by communicating through the shared sensation and sensibility. For Tian, the potential exchangeable subject positions, to some degree, serve as a way to intervene in the identity crisis and ethnic issues in 1980s China.

Guowen Shang, “Norwegian Soul in Chinese Body: A Study of Chinese Adopted Norwegian Students’ Perception of Chinese Identity”

The identity formation for international adoptees has attracted much academic explorations in the past decades. Norway is one of the top 10 adoption-receiving countries in the world. However, no specific research has been carried out regarding the ethnic identities of Chinese adoptees in Norway, and little is known about Chinese adopted Norwegian’s attitudes towards their ethnic origins. This study is intended to examine Norwegian adopted Chinese students’ perception of their identity and their attitudes towards China and Chinese culture. Altogether 20 Chinese adopted Norwegian students at universities in western Norway were involved in the questionnaire survey and semi-structured interview in order to find out how they perceive their ethnic identity and how they deal with the ‘identity dilemmas’ within a predominantly white environment. Phinney’s (1992) Multigroup Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM) was used to measure the participants’ identification with China and Chinese culture and society. In addition, an individual-based, face-to-face interview was conducted to understand more about the participants’ attitudes towards their cultural identities. It is found that the group of Chinese adopted Norwegian students generally felt secure about their identity. They all perceived themselves as Norwegian but could experience some challenges in having a Chinese appearance. The majority of the participants expressed a somewhat superficial interest in China, their birth country. Most of the Chinese adoptees feel less confused and conflicted about their cultural identity.

Carsten Schäfer, “Hong Kong Redefined: Identity Politics between Localism, Transnationalism, and Chinese Nationalism”

The paper examines the struggle for Hong Kong’s cultural identity in recent years. By doing so, it aims at connecting current developments in the city to its pre-handover origins, thus offering a more nuanced understanding of the latest conflicts in the city. Under British colonial rule, Hong Kong’s culture incorporated Western, Chinese, and other influences. At the same time, the city offered refuge to millions of Chinese fleeing political and economic troubles on the mainland. This history is the foundation of the cities culture; against this background, the paper understands Hong Kong as space where different “Chinese” identities clash and fuse. On the one hand, “localist” discourses seek to construct Hong Kong as a place in its own right; on the other hand, official Chinese discourse understands Hong Kong as “just another Chinese city.”
The studies’ mixed-method approach includes a qualitative content analysis of Hong Kong print media and school teaching materials as well as an analysis of selected “linguistic landscapes” in the city. I aim to understand how Hong Kong identities are being rewritten, as well as the significance of this in the context of the struggle for a master narrative for modern China. To do so, I apply a theoretical model that argues that the complexities of Hong Kong’s identity should be analysed within a context that systematically takes into account not only Chinese but also English, Western, Japanese, diasporic, and (other) “transnational” factors of influence. The paper will present (preliminary) findings of this research project.

“Comfort Women” in Taiwan

Issues of Discursivity, Intertextuality, and Filmic Representation
Wednesday
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room 6

  • Agnes Schick-Chen, “The Interdiscursivity of ‘Comfort Women’ Memoryscape in Taiwan”
  • Shu-Hua Kang, “Storytelling as Resistance: Towards a Humanist Discourse for Taiwanese Comfort Women”
  • Chris Berry, “Situating ‘Song of the Reed:’ Documentary Ethics and the ‘Comfort Women’ Genre”
  • Astrid Lipinsky, “Filmic Representation of So-called ‘Comfort Women’: Changes and Developments in Taiwan and China”

The ways in which the historical experience of so-called “comfort stations” for WWII Japanese military personnel in several parts of East- and South-East Asia, was dealt with in different post-war societies, depended on the social, political, and cultural developments of the respective countries and regions. Questions of how the memories of those who had been conscripted and misused as sexual slaves in their youth have been broached in Taiwan after democratisation are addressed in this panel.
Kang Shu-Hua introduces activist initiatives such as a museum, workshops, and documentary films, aimed at a new understanding of the fate of “comfort women” by transcending the victim paradigm and repudiating earlier political interpretations. The film Song of the Reed of 2015 she sees as one significant contribution to what she identifies as a new humanist discourse on comfort women in Taiwan, is further discussed by Chris Berry who places it in the context of a growing number of international comfort women films and highlights some of the ethical aspects of their making and reception. Comparing Song of the Reed to an earlier Taiwanese documentary, A Secret Burried for 50 Years (1998), and the mainland documentary Twenty Two, Astrid Lipinsky looks at filmic representation of “comfort women” from a gender perspective. Finally, Agnes Schick-Chen maps other discursive formations configuring the space in which Taiwanese discourse(s) on “comfort women” has(have) evolved and developed in recent years.

Agnes Schick-Chen, “The Interdiscursivity of ‘Comfort Women’ Memoryscape in Taiwan”

Following up on previous research pointing to the impact of rights and gender discourses on the retrospective treatment of the Japanese WWII ‘comfort station system’, this presentation approaches the problem of a limited memory-scape of ‘comfort women’ in Taiwan from the perspective of interdiscursivity. It argues that whereas initiatives such as a comfort women museum or monument may be read as belated attempts to open up public space to the commemoration of those victimised, related accounts and commentaries still illustrate the difficulty of framing this aspect of Taiwan’s war-time history within the discursive foundations of Taiwan’s post-martial law development. After the end of martial law in 1987, the opening up and re-structuring of discursive space allowed for the (re-)introduction and re-configuration of topics that had been suppressed and/or constrained by authoritarian rule. This led to a situation in which debates on gender equality, human rights, and post-coloniality were gaining momentum, and issues of coming to terms with past traumata were finally addressed by political and social actors. In order to answer the question of why, in spite of this seemingly conducive discursive constellation, it was still so difficult to re-narrate and re-establish the fate of ‘comfort women’ as individual cases of infringements against women’s rights in the colonial past, is targeted by looking at how the above named related discourses interact and interfere with each other in ways that set the parameters of constituting the discursive memoryscape of comfort women in Taiwan.

Shu-Hua Kang, “Storytelling as Resistance: Towards a Humanist Discourse for Taiwanese Comfort Women”

Gaining public support for issues that comfort women face has always been a challenge in Taiwan because of the complex sociopolitical contexts that impede full recognition of their suffering. This study discusses how activists in Taiwan who worked closely with comfort women initiated a humanist discourse that emphasises humanistic characteristics of comfort women survivors and resistance to the collective image constructed by the dominant discourses. The activists presented human characteristics and life stories of comfort women using arts-based social activism, such as photography, documentaries, and museum exhibitions that transcend the traditional image of comfort women as victims of Japanese atrocities in World War II, and instead, enabled people to view them as they would their grandmothers. In this study, we first discuss the issues of the Taiwanese comfort women that emerged in the 1990s and review the transnational redress movement using the competing discourses of nationalism and women’s rights. We then discuss the process of developing a humanist discourse from survivors’ acts of storytelling that re-positions comfort women within Taiwanese society and reconnects the memories of comfort women as ordinary human beings with the public through arts-based social activism. Finally, we assess the weaknesses and strengths of the humanist discourse. This study also serves as a self-reflection of the author’s practical experiences to offer new perspectives on the comfort women redress movement and professional inspirations concerning other social movements.

Chris Berry, “Situating Song of the Reed: Documentary Ethics and the “Comfort Women” Genre”

Song of the Reed (蘆葦之歌, 2015) is a Taiwanese documentary film directed by Wu Hsiu-Ching (吳秀菁) and completed in 2014. It marks the Chinese-language world’s growing participation in the spread of films about the former sex slaves of the Japanese imperial army referred to as “comfort women.” How should we understand this film? This paper argues that placing Song of the Reed in an intertextual and transnational genealogy of so-called “comfort women” films can illuminate its ethical contribution to the depiction of the survivors. It traces the proliferation of fiction and documentary films about the so-called “comfort women.” From the long absence of such films and the initial representations in the form of prostitution melodramas, the paper argues that ethics has become an ever-greater concern in the design and reception of these films, and especially documentary films. It locates a tension between two overlapping aims—the push for political recognition of the “comfort women” and the concern for their well-being —and locates Song of the Reed as an effort to maximise the therapeutic benefit of the filmmaking process itself.

Astrid Lipinsky, “Filmic Representation of so-called ‘Comfort Women’: Changes and Developments in Taiwan and China”

Taiwan has established a legacy of ‘comfort women’ documentaries with A Secret buried for 50 Years in 1998, that was continued and further developed by the release of Song of the Reed in 2015. Both documentaries are directed by women and focus on the same group of former so-called ‘comfort women’, so the second film was able to rely on the basic knowledge established by the first and attempt to proceed in a different direction. The two documentaries have been inspired, financed and made possible by the Taiwanese Women’s Rescue Foundation, a women’s NGO. Without NGO support, neither the number of Taiwanese survivors willing to be filmed nor the importance given to this issue by politics and society would have allowed for the making of a film—or even two films. The problem of financing a film on ‘comfort women’ also became obvious to mainland Chinese director Guo Ke. As it took him years to assemble the necessary crowdfunding, he contrasts the slowness of funding sources with the speed of former ‘comfort women’ passing away. By comparing the Taiwanese female directors’ films with the one made by male mainland director Guo Ke, the paper raises the following question:  How far were the directors’ approaches related to their gender? And has Song of the Reed introduced a new generation of ‘comfort women’ documentary to Taiwan that is not visible (yet) in the People’s Republic of China?

Gender, Stigma, and Melancholia in Sinophone Cultural Representations

Wednesday
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Room 6

  • Organised by Wen-chi Li
  • Andrea Riemenschnitter, Chair
  • Wen-chi Li, “More than Shame: Constructing Melancholia in the Poems of Chen Ke-hua”
  • Helen Hess, “Querying Gender Roles in Singaporean and Malaysian Literature and Art”
  • Sujie Jin, “Fantasising About a Different Gender Identity in Boys’ Love Fiction”
  • Andrea Riemenschnitter, Discussant

The panel is organised in a multiscalar framework that takes into account intersecting categories such as gender, race, class, culture, affective intensities, and aesthetic forms to analyse their entanglements with the (trans-)local, socio-political forces, and their particular forms of oppression. Stigma and discrimination against LGBT and other marginalised groups classify the Other in undesirable stereotypes (Goffman) and produce negative affections such as shame, fear, loneliness, and melancholia. Regarding the latter, Kristeva argues that aesthetic and literary creation triggered by melancholia can set forth an artistic work that represents the subject’s coming to terms with the collapse of the symbolic. Indebted to her intervention, this panel will engage in a dialogue with marginalised queer artists. It will in particular study how they and their audiences read these Others within the Sinophone communities, and how their struggles in the battlefields of heteronormativity employ the affective intensity of melancholia in order to produce redemptive social action. We will argue that behaving, writing, or thinking queerly empowers them to escape, challenge, and (theoretically) undo the majorities’ enforcement of male heteronormativity. To provide a comprehensive perspective on how gender, stigma, melancholia and other tropes are operated in Sinophone texts and their communities, the panel cuts across various identities (such as queer, transgender, lesbian, and straight), genres (i.e. photography, poetry, and novel both printed and online), and geographical areas (in particular, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and mainland China).

Wen-chi Li, “More than Shame: Constructing Melancholia in the Poems of Chen Ke-hua”

Taiwan’s LGBT tolerance nowadays has come from continuous struggles against the social conservative. In the 1990s, when gay and lesbian novels and poems were widely published, the writers tended to portray homosexual sex and desire as unspeakable and tabooed, with a strong lyrical tone, and in a counter-rational style that implicitly challenges heteronormativity and patriarchy. Such writings do not merely stage feelings of shame—an affect often connected to gay identity in queer theories—but also are underpinned by melancholia. This presentation intends to offer an alternative perspective on Taiwanese LGBT experiences, particularly that of the gay writer Chen Ke-hua (陳克華, 1961), and exemplify how the poet’s life and oeuvre are connected to melancholia. I will explore how melancholia represented in gay writings is associated with personal experience and social denial, and consider the specific affective dynamics within Taiwan’s identity and gender politics.

Helen Hess, “Querying Gender Roles in Singaporean and Malaysian Literature and Art”

The Merlion is a mythical creature that is commonly believed to represent Singapore’s identity. It has the body of a fish and the head of a lion. In Amanda Lee Koe’s short story Siren, the hybrid animal dwells in a human transsexual protagonist called Marl, who in this way represents a queer version of Singapore’s national allegory. Marl’s classmates claim that he is half lion half fish because he does not fit into their concept of a typical boy. Marl keeps telling himself a tale about a sailor, who fell in love with a siren and brought up a child that is half-human, half mermaid. The appropriation of supernatural figures and mythical creatures often functions as a kind of self-empowerment. When accepted and encrypted with positive meaning, the experience of stigmatisation can be reversed and turned into a powerful defence mechanism. Many of Koe’s stories question the heteronormative gender roles that dominate public discourse, against which some of Koe’s lesbian protagonists do not even dare to raise their voices. Drawing on Foucauldian discourse analysis, postcolonial feminism, and gender theories, the paper intends to analyse how gender and sexuality are represented in Singapore’s and Malaysia’s public discourse from the late colonial era until today. Furthermore, it will study how stereotyped role models are challenged in contemporary Sinophone fiction and artworks. The goal is to explore how power relations and disparity based on discursively constructed identity categories have changed over time, and how cultural representations map out alternative concepts of subjecthood.

Sujie Jin, “Fantasising About a Different Gender Identity in Boys’ Love Fiction

Chinese online boys’ love (BL) fiction—a genre that features male-male relationships—is a collective product created by and for women since the late 1990s under the influence of Japanese BL culture. The female writers and readers, who are commonly named as fujoshi (funü 腐女 in Mandarin, literally, rotten girls) in a self-deprecating sense, are relatively marginalised socially and have to endure the anxieties of gender essentialism within the cultural patriarchy. To escape from the prevalent gender stereotypes, they construct an ideal, liberal, and utopian community through BL texts. It is significant to investigate fujoshis’ reaction toward the kind of gender identity that is conveyed and fantasised about in BL fiction. Two stories—The Water Buffalo Man 牛男 and Groceries for Pathfinders 南北杂货 written by the female author Baozhihuqiang 报纸糊墙—will be presented in a case study in order to show how fujoshi fictionalise a better life based on the imagination of gay desire and experience in the settings of an imagined contemporary Chinese society or the golden times of the Tang Dynasty. Actively participating in the making of the fantasy, the fujoshi community comments on the text online, thereby affecting the development of the characters and plot. The analysis will thus illustrate how fujoshi challenge the existing female stereotypes as encountered in the real, patriarchal world by building an alternative, digital, and open cultural sphere.

Emotions in China

Youth between Fear and Nostalgia
Wednesday
11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room 6

  • Organised By Sascha Klotzbücher
  • Sascha Klotzbücher, Chair
  • Sascha Klotzbücher, “Politics of Fear and The Memories of The Cultural Revolution: Why Generations Do Not Meet in China”
  • Maria Nolan, “Youth, Home, and Urban Alienation in Contemporary China”
  • Lili Jiang, “The Changing Sense of Belonging Of Chinese Master Students In Germany”
  • Lisa Richaud, Discussant

This is the third panel that explores the importance of emotions. All three participants focus on the question how emotions of the youth frame perception and action. This panel tries to explore how young people create emotional settings and how this agency is powerful even when material or political representation is gone: The first presenter explores how fear is critical for the emotional manipulation of the Cultural Revolution and even unfolds in transgenerational settings. The second presentation focus on nostalgia of lost homes, and the last presenter on shared affect of lostness and nostalgia in folk rock music.

Sascha Klotzbücher, “Politics of Fear and The Memories of The Cultural Revolution: Why Generations Do Not Meet in China”

This paper is part of a recent published book that develops a framework for the analysis of power, emotion, and psychodynamics. I analyse the power of Maoism not in ideological terms but how ordinary people simplified and distorted it as new access to a new Lebenswelt. This paper argues that Maoist ideology created a stable system of “affect manipulation” to exist, enabling authorities to subtly manipulate individuals to perceive themselves in politically defined states of joy and frustration. It is crucial to understand the process of identification in politically designed, unified, and controlled social roles propagated during the Cultural Revolution. Acting in these social roles, they internalise ideology when coping with politically induced anxiety, and ambivalence by enabling and acting out these new designed positive feelings. For this presentation, I will look in a case study. I use autobiographies written by a former high school student in Wuhan who murdered two members of a rival red guards association in 1966. I discuss the constructed feeling of “hate“ as part of the social role “people’s hero.” The second part of the paper analyses the legacy and transmission of these role concepts into the current society of mainland China in ‘apolitical’ settings like families. Using my interviews with the former sent-down youth and their children in Wuhan, I will analyse how these memories and feelings of this identification are transferred and updated into contemporary Chinese families as a form of construction of daily family life and conversations where intergenerational discourse can only fail.

Maria Nolan, “Youth, Home, and Urban Alienation in Contemporary China

Over the past 40 years, as Chinese cities have undergone sweeping changes, the meaning of ‘home’ in urban China has simultaneously evolved. In Beijing, for example, older neighbourhoods have been razed through renovations starting in the early 1990s and continuing today, while out of the rubble emerge new commercial housing units and private compounds. Studies have shown that those relocated to new compounds may feel both a heightened sense of privacy and a greatly diminished sense of attachment to their surroundings (Cockain, 2012; Zhang, 2008). Today’s urban youth, however, were born into such increasingly privatised environments. Many have resided for most—or all —of their lives in modern apartment compounds in newer localities as cityscapes have been continually recreated. This paper explores—ethnographically—the extent to which China’s urban youth, accustomed to privatised home lifestyles, experience feelings of detachment from their urban environs, and illustrates how such feelings may be articulated. Alongside privatisation, urban redevelopment has led to what de Kloet and Fung (2017: 26) describe as youths’ ‘constant deterritorialisation’, while digital media, in providing diverse communication and entertainment options, are driving a reduction in engagement with spaces outside the home. If youth have never experienced a strong sense of relatedness with their neighbourhood or neighbours, is it something they desire? This paper analyses youths’ perceptions and experiences of city life in this context, and, with reference to Lefebvre’s writings on urban alienation, shows how they inform practices of everyday life both at home and in wider urban environments.

Lili Jiang, “The Changing Sense of Belonging Of Chinese Master Students In Germany”

This paper explores the changing sense of belonging of a group of master students from mainland China during their stay in Germany. The main purpose is to understand how the students perceive their emotional attachment to China as home and how the perception gradually changed after their experiences in Germany, where they have learnt and developed different strategies to negotiate their sense of belonging. The study applies a combination of longitudinal method and the method of the biographical narrative interview which tracks 25 Chinese students’ lived experiences from their first semester until after they graduate from Germany, in order to capture their development. The paper provides longitudinal evidence to reveal the complex and multi-layered nature of these young students’ changing sense of home and also supports that students’ transcultural experiences in Germany may help them “unlearn” a normalized emotional attachment toward China which was partially imbued by the Patriotic Education Campaign from the 1990s and assist them to go beyond their state-bound national loyalty to postulate a potential transcultural position in today’s world.

Emotions in China

Locating Negative Affects in Post-Reform China
Wednesday
9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room 6

  • Organised by Lisa Richaud
  • Lisa Richaud, Chair
  • Kailing Xie, “The National Public Memorial Day for the Nanjing Massacres: Displays of Collective Pain and Shame and their Importance in Governing Contemporary China”
  • Julian Mohr, “The Great Leap Forward Trauma in Stranger Sociability”
  • Xuefei Ma, “Speaking Bitterness and Misery Lamentation: Translating between Gender and Class in Rural Women’s Biographical Stories”
  • Gil Hizi, Discussant

If there is such thing as a dominant public sphere in post-reform China, its emotional tonality has often been described as overwhelmingly positive, as evidenced by the recent “happiness” campaigns or state-promoted “positive energy”. This panel takes this prevalence of positivity as an invitation to investigate its opposites: the expression and performativity of negative affects and emotions in everyday life and public culture. Here, negative affects are not only defined by their attendant dysphoric or unpleasant quality. Crucially, negativity derives from state-shaped emotional regimes, produced through explicit definitional acts or staged atmospheres that promote certain affects and dismiss or condemn others. What kind of cultural repertoires are available and appropriated for people to make sense of their emotional experiences? How do cultural artefacts contribute to shaping social imaginaries of stranger sociability centred around collective emotional experiences? How are affective publics formed, sustained, and (de)politicised in the Chinese authoritarian context? Beyond obvious forms of control over technologies of social connections, are there any mechanisms through which the Party-state may restrict the possibility to identify oneself as member of larger (counter) affective publics? Despite its pervasive use of positivity, does the party-state capitalise on negative affects to reproduce its legitimacy? The panel will attend to a variety of contexts, ranging from the negative affects ensuing from state-induced “situations of restricted agency”, the lingering traumas and fears of the Mao era, to the ways in which the party-state continues to govern (through) negative affects.

Kailing Xie, “The National Public Memorial Day for the Nanjing Massacres: Displays of Collective Pain and Shame and their Importance in Governing Contemporary China”

Under the current Xi’s administration, the party-state has marked the 13th of December as the national public Memorial Day for the Nanjing massacres. Since 2014, this entails holding a series of public events accompanied by wide official media coverage to remind the public of the shame and pain of China’s weak past. Simultaneously, there has been a widespread state-promoted ‘positive energy’ and ‘happiness campaigns’ permeating in Chinese society together with the state’s frequent announcement that China has achieved its national rejuvenation and entered ‘a new era’. This paper focuses on discourse circulated by China’s official media coverage to show how certain negative emotions such as pain and shame are publicly displayed and expressed to serve an instrumental function in China’s contemporary governance. In particular, the paper argues that state-endorsed negative emotions enhance its promotion of positivity in post-reform China. Similar to previous campaigns, like the ‘yi ku si tian’ (remembering bitterness and knowing sweetness) movement during the Cultural Revolution, it encourages the public to actively appreciate and internalise the ‘feeling of being fortunate enough’ to live under China’s ‘tai ping sheng shi’ (the time of peace and prosperity). It further extends the party-state’s disciplinary power to the public’s affective realm with the aim to promote national unity and legitimise its rule. Instilling such collective negative emotions in the pubic restrict the transformative agency of other negative affects experienced by individuals facing rapid social and economic changes.

Julian Mohr, “The Great Leap Forward Trauma in Stranger Sociability

According to Maurice Halbwachs, the construction of memory is not purely individual but embedded in the current social framework. As Weigelin-Schwiedrzik points out in her work, the traumatic experiences of the Great Leap Forward (GLF) and thus the negative feelings continue to be present in the communicative memory of the Chinese population in post-Mao China. It turns out, however, that the Communist Party’s repressive handling of the very discourse prevents it not only to be communicated as the failed policy in public spheres as it appears to be described in the certain historiography, especially in the West, but also from becoming part of cultural memory. What about the feelings of the transgenerational traumatised of the GLF in various public spheres? Being traumatised can mean, among other things, suffering from the contradiction of the feeling of unfeelingness: The avoidance of re-experiencing trauma-induced feelings. Lazar and Litvak-Hirsch emphasise that Jewish identity ultimately draws on a framing of the Holocaust that transcends internal ethnic, national, and generational differences. In this regard, I aim to examine, how these negative feelings of transgenerational transmitted trauma appear to be communicated outside the Chinese authoritarian context in newly formed stranger environments. Is it possible for the descendants of the eyewitnesses of the GLF to articulate the feelings in a public space with like-minded in a newly created stranger sociality? In addition, there is the question of the possibility of forming an affective “we” with reference to the GLF.

Xuefei Ma, “Speaking Bitterness and Misery Lamentation: Translating between Gender and Class in Rural Women’s Biographical Stories

Misery Lamentation is a conventional genre in the culture of nüshu—a women-invented writing system in rural Jiangyong of south China. Its writing and related performative events facilitate a gendered community of sentiments. In the CCP-led Speaking Bitterness campaign that generates class-centred feelings in the socialist era, Misery Lamentation is never curated. This paper investigates the historical encounters between Speaking Bitterness and Misery Lamentation, as a lens to explore the tensions and (un)translatability between China’s gender and class politics from the socialist past to the post-reform present. I analyse the textual, contextual, and intertextual relations of nüshu’s historical archives and the production of what I call Neo-misery Lamentation through my ethnography on The He Jiyu Lamentation (2018) and The Zhu Liurui Lamentation (2019). I make the following arguments. First, while Speaking Bitterness translates gender issues into class struggles, Misery Lamentation draws upon women’s empathetic bonding and refuses to be appropriated in the Maoist “class” vocabulary, thus becoming the unrecognised and unrecognisable bitterness. Second, in the Neo-misery Lamentation, the formulation of Speaking Bitterness (Gail Hershatter, 2013) is passed down, regulates women’s perception of their life courses, mediates the expression of the left-behind rural women, and paradoxically produces positive feelings from women’s marginalised positions. Third, in the formation of neoliberal subjects in post-reform China, the historical tensions between gender and class are distributed as “middle-class norms” (Hai Ren, 2013) in the multiple-layered governance of the nation-state, patriarchal institutions of family and workplace, and the regulated sphere for women’s homosociality.

Papers on Language I

Contacts
Tuesday
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Room H

  • Julia Wasserfall, “English Language Ideologies and Use in Taiwan”
  • Yezi Mu, “Foreign Influence or Indigenous Language Change: A Comparative Study on the Expressions of Tense and Aspect between the Daoxing bore jing and its Sanskrit Counterpart”
  • Alexandra Sizova, “Achievements and Challenges in Teaching Mandarin Chinese in Russia’s Contemporary System of Secondary Education”
  • Wen-Huei Cheng, Chi-Tsuan Lin, “A Study on the Acceptance and Changes of the Concept of ‘Western Studies’ 西學 in Modern China via Vocabulary and Concepts”

Julia Wasserfall, “English Language Ideologies and Use in Taiwan”

In the Sinophone world, English has and continues to play diverse roles, such as former colonial, official, and foreign language. In Taiwan, it has served as the paramount, and at times only, foreign language in educational policies. However, political discussions about its official status have arisen both at the turn of the century and as recently as 2018. In 2013, the southern city of Tainan announced to become bilingual (Mandarin/ English) within ten years and institutionalized this plan by inaugurating the Office of English as the Second Official Language (OEASEOL) in 2015. Although exposure to English has increased through language-in-education and linguistic landscape planning, its use remains mainly restricted to language instruction classes and international communication. However, the insertion of English words, phrases, and at times even full sentences is a common occurrence not only in everyday speech but also print and audio-visual media.
Based on the framework of language policy, identifying language ideologies and language planning as well as language practices as mutually interdependent in the study of speakers’ linguistic choices (i.a. Spolsky 2004, 2009), this paper takes a closer look at English language ideologies in Taiwan. By analysing parliamentary debates, English language curricula, national plans, and interview transcripts both official and private discourses are taken into account. The result shows how speakers negotiate negative and positive narratives of English and how these shape language choices and patterns of English language use in Taiwan.

Yezi Mu, “Foreign Influence or Indigenous Language Change: A Comparative Study on the Expressions of Tense and Aspect between the Daoxing bore jing and its Sanskrit Counterpart”

Early Chinese Buddhist texts as the translations or compositions based on Indian Buddhist texts are supposed to be the earliest outcome of historical language contact between ancient Indic languages, early Literary Chinese and early vernacular Chinese. They demonstrate many linguistic features which are not attested in Chinese pre-Buddhist literature and their contemporary Chinese non-Buddhist texts. Some believe that these peculiar features were triggered by the contact with Indic languages while others argue that they were actually results of native language change. This research focuses on the expressions of two common grammatical categories, the tense and aspect, in an authentic early Chinese Buddhist text, the Daoxing bore jing (DXBR), and discusses whether there could be any Indic influences or not by comparing it with its extant Sanskrit counterpart, the Aṣṭasāhasrikā Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, which basically share the same content. The comparative analysis indicates that although sentences are often marked in the same type of tense in DXBR and its Sanskrit counterpart, there do exist some inexplicable exceptions. Besides, issues concerning the expressions of aspect are even more complicated as no clear correlations can be found. Such inconsistency between the Chinese text and its Sanskrit version suggests that DXBR, or early Chinese Buddhist texts in general, may have mainly adopted the expressions of tense and aspect from Chinese pre-Buddhist literature and ancient vernacular usage with only limited foreign influence.

Alexandra Sizova, “Achievements and Challenges in Teaching Mandarin Chinese in Russia’s Contemporary System of Secondary Education”

This paper presents the preliminary results of the study related to the current situation in teaching Mandarin Chinese at the secondary school level in the Russian Federation.
In the early 21st century, the increased interest to learning Chinese, mainly as a second foreign language (SFL), has been observed among Russian secondary school students. The popularity of this language may be predetermined by the set of factors, including the dynamics of Russian-Chinese strategic partnership, bilateral trade and cultural exchange, energetic PRC’s cultural diplomacy as well as the global trends of internationalisation, multilingualism, informatisation, the rise of attention to students’ communicative and intercultural competences being fully relevant to the modern educational setting in Russia, and others.
Meanwhile, the conceptual, organizational, methodological and practical aspects of institutionalisation and development of Chinese language as a new school subject in Russia has not yet received comprehensive analysis in academia. Based on the wide range of sources, this study aims to highlight some milestones of introduction and regulation of teaching Chinese in the national general education system, analyse the role of internal and external drivers of popularising Chinese language in Russian schools. It also considers recent achievements and challenges in organizing educational process and result assessment, creating relevant teaching materials and applying contemporary language instruction methods (Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), etc.) to Chinese language training practices faced by the pedagogical community and schools for the moment.

Wen-Huei Cheng, Chi-Tsuan Lin, “A Study on the Acceptance and Changes of the Concept of ‘Western Studies’ (西學) in Modern China via Vocabulary and Concepts”

This study is to explore the trend of global knowledge flow in modern China, via the scope of vocabulary and concepts. The reason behind this study is that “Western Studies” 西學 is treated as a source of new knowledge concept and a context and change of knowledge genealogy in the modern China. The proposed approach combines methods from concept history, conceptual history theory, digital technology and statistical analysis. The proposed method takes into account traditional humanities research, as well as digital technology, including statistical analysis of keywords and co-occurrence lexicons, concept networks, and time-series analysis. The goal is to outline the multi-layered trends in the dissemination and acceptance of new knowledge of “Western Studies” 西學 in the modern China. The generation and transformation of concepts and emotional aspects include the interactive relationship between the concepts, events, discourses, and actions referred to in “Western Studies” 西學, as well as large historical images of China’s modern transformation such as intellectual property system, knowledge structure, school system, and discipline system.