Thursday, April 3, 2014

Two talks by visiting short-term fellow Ruth Hung at Pitt, April 7 and 9.

Dr. Ruth Hung is a short-term fellow visiting the University of Pittsburgh from Hong Kong Baptist University, and will give two talks next week. A lecture, "Red Nostalgia: Commemorating Mao in Our Time", is scheduled for 5:00 pm on April 7, and a colloquium on April 9 at 12:30 "How Global Capitalism Transforms Deng Xiaoping". Dr. Hung presented on the former last year at the Chinese University of Hong Kong; here's the abstract:
This essay departs from the figure of exoticism and argues that twenty-first century chinoiserie needs to address the reality of a new context surrounding the creation of the “orient.” The paper focuses on the cult of posthumous Mao that became fervent in the 1990s and has become, since the turn of the millennium, a nexus in which global capitalism and “effective authoritarianism” negotiate conflicting interests and, together, create a line of development in their search for a global modernity. I argue that, on the one hand, twenty-first century chinoiserie accepts revolutionary China as a source of unlimited possibilities, treating its relics with special care, and puffing it with so much capitalist money, creativity, and productivity that it allows its protagonist Mao Zedong to live an afterlife hardly any other historical leader has enjoyed. On the other hand, the new chinoiserie in the age of global capital continues to construct China from within the hegemonic framework of capitalism precisely in its attempt at liberating and depoliticizing Red China. Despite its narrow focus on the market, it even lends power to a new authoritarianism that has ceaselessly been inventing, reconstructing, and staging China’s revolutionary past as no more than a spectacle or amusement park in which the party-state allows and contains social discontents. The rise and fall of Bo Xilai, the party boss in Chongqing before his arrest, along with his Chongqing Model—a grand example of “Red Culture” resurrected, is a case in point. Ultimately, I am less interested in the extent to which twenty-first century chinoiserie actually exists outside of the Chinese community. In some way, the commodity industry of posthumous Mao nowadays witnesses chinoiserie’s transformation from a western China craze into a policed imagination--a chinoiserie with Chinese characteristics.
The latter is the subject of a forthcoming article in the Summer 2014 issue of Boundary 2, published by Duke University Press. Both events will be held in room 602 on the sixth floor of the Cathedral of Learning.