Recite and Refuse review

MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are please to announce publication of Paul Manfredi’s review of Recite and Refuse: Contemporary Chinese Prose Poetry (University of Hawaii Press, 2016), by Nick Admussen. The review appears below and at: http://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/recite-and-refuse/. My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

Recite and Refuse: 
Contemporary Chinese Prose Poetry

By Nick Admussen


Reviewed by Paul Manfredi
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October, 2018)


Nick Admussen, Recite and Refuse: Contemporary Chinese Prose Poetry. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2016. V-viii, 219 pp. ISBN-13: 9780824856526. Hardback: $65.00

Nick Admussen’s book Recite and Refuse: Contemporary Chinese Prose Poetry can be characterized in the same terms as the poetry he describes: concentrated and condensed. The book’s modest size (some 165 pages plus an appended 10-page translation) relative to its scope, however, makes it no less effective because Admussen’s prose is lucid and his arguments almost uniformly intriguing. The essential argument of the work—that prose poetry is more process than product of creation and that authors of prose poetry so identified should be understood in the context of the entire social field giving rise to their works—is comprehensively addressed. In the Afterword, which serves as something of an artistic treatise, he summarizes as follows: “Creation becomes the creation not of a product but a set of connections: the power of creation is not then ownership or mastery, but definition, consensus, the ability to fix the shape of a structure” (164). Continue reading

‘Simple’ guide to Xi Jinping Thought (1)

Better than the SCMP article is this piece from Inkstone:

https://www.inkstonenews.com/politics/peoples-daily-makes-xi-jinping-thought-infographic-anniversary/article/2169306

I strongly recommend Prof. Carrico’s essay recounting his personal study of Xi Jinping Thought:

https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/10/18/i-mastered-xi-jinping-thought-and-i-have-the-certificate-to-prove-it/

He also comments on the mind-map for a website in New Zealand:

https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/107974412/consciously-mystifying-chinese-president-xi-jinping-thoughtmapped-for-the-masses

What strikes me about this “map” is that its top-level organization appears to be spurious. The central box, which in a mind-map is supposed to be a root concept, is only the chart’s title. The thirty principal topics are numbered, but is there any intrinsic sequence to the ideas? (Except perhaps for the self-referential #1, which states that XJP Thought must guide the Party and the Nation for the long term.)  Also, is there any actual association connecting topics that have been printed in the same color?  The biggest problem, of course, is that a mind-map with 30 top-level domains offers the viewer no fundamental structure by which to grasp it.

As some wag commented: The Emperor’s new mind . . .

A. E. Clark <aec@raggedbanner.com>

Falling stars

Source: SCMP (10/18/18)
Chinese millennials ‘falling out of cars’ in search of internet fame
‘Falling stars’ challenge attracts Chinese millennials hoping to go viral and a mocking response from more down-to-earth citizens
By Zoe Low

The latest viral “falling stars” internet challenge among China’s “crazy rich Asians” has been mocked by a series of satirical memes, this one from a Shanghai firefighter. 

Two Chinese women stopped their car on a pedestrian crossing in a busy city centre and, as they got out, one of them dropped her Gucci handbag, a pair of red-soled, high-heeled shoes, and an assortment of make-up on the street, spreading them around for effect.

She then lay face down, with her legs still inside the car, as her friend began to shoot video of her “fall”.

That was on Monday. On Wednesday, according to the Taizhou internet police force, the women, both surnamed Chen, were arrested for disrupting traffic and fined 150 yuan (US$21) and 10 yuan. Continue reading

‘Simple’ guide to Xi Jinping Thought

Source: SCMP (10/18/18)
A simple guide to Xi Jinping Thought? Here’s how China’s official media tried to explain it
People’s Daily produces complex, colour-coded graphic in attempt to visualise ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’
By Matt Ho

When Xi Jinping outlined his political blueprint for the next 30 years at the Communist Party congress last year, it took him three and a half hours to articulate his vision for the country.

Now, to mark the first anniversary of his speech, the party’s official mouthpiece has made a no less ambitious attempt to visualise the Chinese president’s doctrines.

The result, published on the WeChat account of People’s Daily on Thursday, is a complex colour-coded “mind map” consisting of 30 separate elements, each broken down into multiple subsections that resemble the branches of a tree. Continue reading

Guobin Yang podcast on the Internet and politics

Source: UPenn Center for the Study of Contemporary China
Internet Culture and Politics in China – Guobin Yang
https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/upenn-center-for-the-study-of-contemporary-china/e/56640821

Episode Info

Current headlines about how authoritarian regimes have come to harness and even weaponize the internet may obscure how this technology, at one time, was more typically understood to be a democratizing force, across a range of different contexts. In the early days of Chinese cyberspace, for example, popular expression on various internet forums seemed to herald a new stage in political activism, that was pressing the boundaries of traditional state control. In this episode, University of Pennsylvania Professor Guobin Yang, the preeminent scholar of the sociology of the internet in China, discusses with Neysun Mahboubi the evolution of social media platforms on the Chinese internet, over the past 20 years, and their changing political implications. The episode was recorded on March 1, 2018. Continue reading

Gui Minhai update

Yesterday, Oct 17, 2018, marked 3 years since Swedish citizen, publisher, writer, and poet Gui Minhai was kidnapped from Thailand by Chinese agents, on Oct 17, 2015, and imprisoned by China. He remains imprisoned there, and his circumstances unknown.

A new rally was held Oct 17 outside the Chinese embassy in Stockholm, with the support from Sweden’s Publishers Assn., Sweden’s Journalists Assn., and Swedish PEN and Sweden’s Writers’ Assn.  

A Chinese language report on the rally: https://hk.news.appledaily.com/international/daily/article/20181018/20524560

Swedish Radio made a report in English, on the rally: https://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=7069515

As mentioned in the report, China’s intimidation campaign against people speaking up for Gui Minhai continues unabated: This includes the embassy writing to politicians like Left Party leader J. Sjöstedt, who got a threatening letter from the embassy the same morning, scolding him for talking about Gui Minhai, China and human rights, and then he went to the rally at noon! Listen to his interview in English in the segment above. Continue reading

What has Marx ever done for China (1)

Kerry Brown is right that Marxism in China imports a model of irreversible linear progress to a culture long steeped in a cyclical view of the world.  But (perhaps to soften the absurdity of Xi’s use of Marx), Brown paraphrases the German philosopher:  “No matter what, the laws of history as outlined by Marx meant that things would work out,” and “All of this had to end somewhere good.”

I think Marx would snort with contempt at this vague, feel-good formulation.  He was much more specific. The telos he envisioned involved control over the means of production and (to enlist Engels) the withering away of the State.  As Brown notes, Marx’s rare mentions of 19th century China were suffused with “lofty disparagement and disdain.”  Could he be resurrected to assess Chinese labor relations and wealth distribution today, he would update his views but I doubt they would become much more favorable.

A. E. Clark <aec@raggedbanner.com>

Xu Jilin, ‘The New Tianxia’

Source: Reading the China Dream (10/15/18)
Xu Jilin, “The New Tianxia: Rebuilding China’s Internal and External Order”[1]
Translation by Mark McConaghy, Tang Xiaobing, and David Ownby

Introduction by David Ownby

Although the major themes of this 2015 essay are found in many of Xu’s essays, they are woven together here in an imaginative way to address a topic that Xu does not often address—Chinese foreign policy.  He starts with a fairly familiar presentation of the traditional notion of tianxia 天下 (literally “all under heaven”) which, in Xu’s words, connoted both “an ideal civilizational order, and a world spatial imaginary with China’s central plains at the core.”  In one sense, then, China was tianxia, the embodiment, when the system functioned at its best, of the set of principles that justified imperial Confucian rule.  But tianxia was open, not closed; like the 20th century American dream,tianxia was understood, by the Chinese, as a kind of universalism to which other cultures could aspire.  Xu illustrates his point less through discussion of China’s traditional tribute system, and more through exploration of the historical relations between the Han people and the various non-Han “barbarian groups” on China’s peripheries, his point being that the processes of assimilation, borrowing, and integration were multiple, complex, and non-problematic at an ideological level.  In other words, prior to the arrival of the notion of the nation-state, “Chinese” and “barbarian” were not understood in racial terms but in civilizational terms.  An open, universal tianxia welcomed Asia’s “huddled masses” as long as they recognized tianxia’s brilliance. Continue reading

What has Marx ever done for China

P.S.: The subtitle is: The key to Marx’s appeal for modern China lies in his conception of history.–Alessandro Burrone <alessandroburrone@gmail.com>

Source: The Diplomat (May 14, 2018)
What Has Karl Marx Ever Done for China?
By Kerry Brown, Kerry

Visitors walk past a photograph of Karl Marx at an exhibition to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth at the National Museum in Beijing (May 5, 2018). Image Credit: AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

One of the paradoxes of modern Chinese history is that, during the most xenophobic and anti-foreign period in the country’s modern history, in the depths of the Cultural Revolution half a century ago, the words of German émigré Karl Marx and the ideology that bore his name imported from that maligned, distrusted, and hated outside world were untouchable parts of the dogma.

Nien Cheng in her celebrated memoir of the era, Life and Death in Shanghai, put her finger on this paradox. Responding to her interrogators when attacked for working for a foreign company in Shanghai, she asked, why was that such a problem? The Communists, after all, she said, were serving a set of ideas born abroad, created by a foreigner. She could have gone further. The Red Guards were idolizing a foreigner whose vast corpus of work, when it mentioned China (which was rarely), did so with lofty disparagement and disdain. The country, Marx thought, was decades, if not centuries away from the revolutions he predicted were about to topple governments in Europe and the West. Continue reading

Sinophone Studies–cfp

Sinophone Studies:
Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Critical Reflections
Call for Papers
April 12-13, 2019
University of California, Los Angeles
 Organized by Professor Shu-mei Shih (UCLA)
Deadline: December 1, 2018

Since the initial conceptualization of Sinophone studies over a decade ago as a field that examines Sinitic-language cultures and communities marked by difference and heterogeneity around the world, scholarly work in the field has become more and more interdisciplinary, involving not only literary and cinema studies, but also history, anthropology, musicology, linguistics, art history, dance, and others. Now we routinely see “Sinophone” as a specific marker with multiple implications that are no longer merely denotative, enabling, on the one hand, marginalized voices, sites, and practices to come into view, and, on the other hand, an expanded conversation with such fields as postcolonial studies, settler colonial studies, immigration studies, ethnic studies, queer studies, and area studies. There have been vibrant debates at the definitional and conceptual level about critical issues and standpoints, such as the pros and cons of the diasporic framework (diaspora as history versus diaspora as value), the difficulty of overcoming Chineseness, the strength and pitfalls of language-determined identities, imperial and anti-imperial politics, racialization and self-determination of minority peoples, place-based cultural practices, the dialectics between roots and routes, and many others, and presently, scholars in disciplines other than literary and cinema studies have begun to join these conversations. The increasingly interdisciplinary nature of Sinophone studies compels us to take stock, at this particular historical conjuncture, of where this inherently interdisciplinary field has been, where it is going, and where it might go in the future. Continue reading

Languages and Scripts in China–cfp

CFP: “Languages and Scripts in China,” Workshop at Columbia University
“Languages and Scripts in China: New Directions in Communications and Information History.” Workshop at Columbia University on April 19, 2019.

This workshop aims to articulate a new path in studying the history of languages and scripts in China. Although this inquiry has been part of a long historiographical tradition, the past decade has seen an unprecedented growth in revisionist scholarship. New perspectives on the making of Mandarin as a national language, transnational histories of script reforms, and the significance of media technologies as well as large-scale infrastructures have been some of the major themes that animated recent literature on languages and scripts in China. How can we critically reflect on this contemporary interest in the history of linguistic technologies? What does it mean to study languages and scripts in the twenty-first century? What are the possibilities and pitfalls in pondering the multi-lingual and multi-scripted landscape of China?

This workshop will bring together advanced doctoral, postdoctoral, and early career researchers in an effort to rethink Chinese history as part of the nascent scholarship on the global history of communications and information. As the workshop is designed to explore the multiplicity of scripts and languages in China, researchers whose work engages with non-Han scripts and comparative/transnational perspectives are especially encouraged to apply. Fields of inquiry include but are not limited to the following topics: Continue reading

Made in China 3.3

Dear Colleagues,

I am glad to announce the publication of the latest issue of Made in China, the open access quarterly on Chinese labour and civil society supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World, the Australian National University. You can download the pdf for free and subscribe at this link: http://www.chinoiresie.info/made-in-china-quarterly/. Below you can find the editorial of the new issue:

On a Chinese Screen: Media, Power, and Voice in China

The previous decade saw widespread discussions about the role of the Internet in reshaping power relations in Chinese society. New media—it was widely believed—would give voice to the poor and downtrodden, allow citizens to better supervise government activity, and foster lively cultural exchanges. Workers would also benefit from this, as the Internet provided them with the tools needed to bring their grievances into the spotlight and enhance their ability to connect with their peers to establish new forms of solidarity. A decade later, what is left of that cyber-utopian discourse? As the Chinese Party-state steps up the censorship and manipulation of online information, and as new media is increasingly used as a means to reinforce control and surveillance over the population, a more sombre assessment of the role of the Internet seems to have gained traction in the court of public opinion. The scandals that in recent years have engulfed those social media companies that in the late 2000s and early 2010s gave rise to many of those thwarted expectations—Facebook in primis—have nothing but contributed to the disillusion. Continue reading

U of Victoria position

Dear colleagues,

The Department of Pacific and Asian Studies in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Victoria is seeking applications for a faculty position at the Assistant Teaching Professor level, with an expected starting date of July 1, 2019. The initial appointment is for four years, with eligibility for a continuing appointment in accordance with the Collective Agreement between the University of Victoria and the University of Victoria Faculty Association.

We are seeking candidates with a record of excellence in teaching Chinese language at all levels – from beginner to advanced – in a college or university setting, and a commitment to supporting and developing our Chinese language program into the future. The program is taught in two streams, one for students starting without a working knowledge of Chinese, the other for those with native or heritage knowledge of the language. The successful candidate will be able to contribute to teaching in both streams. Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in pedagogical enquiry and teaching innovation, as well as in other teaching-related activities (e.g., pedagogical research, publication, conference participation, outreach). In addition to innovative teaching in Chinese, we are looking for someone who can speak to broader themes and issues in language and pedagogy pertinent across the Asia Pacific region and beyond. The position requires administrative, organizational, mentoring and leadership skills. Candidates must be able to work both independently and collaboratively with other instructors; they will also be expected to participate actively in departmental activities. Continue reading

Chinese Parents online game

Source: Sixth Tone (10/16/18)
Chinese Gamers Can Now Walk a Mile in Their Parents’ Shoes
Being a responsible guardian is the goal of China’s latest online gaming fad.
By Yin Yijun

A screenshot from ‘Chinese Parents’ shows a couple attending to their pregnant daughter at the hospital.

Hoping to raise smart, happy, successful kids someday? A little online tiger mom training couldn’t hurt.

Since its release just before October’s Golden Week holiday, “Chinese Parents” peaked at No. 2 on gaming platform Steam’s bestselling title list, temporarily outperforming big-budget competitors like “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.” Developed by Beijing-based studio Moyuwan, the game gives players the chance to have virtual baby boys, raise them to adulthood, and see that they find good careers and partners. (The option to have girls is still being developed.) Continue reading

How I Made it to Renda’s Blacklist

Source: China Digital Times (10/15/18)
Translation: How I Made it to Renmin University’s Student Blacklist

Six weeks ago, 22-year-old Marxist student activist Yue Xin was detained, just over a week after she posted an open letter, translated in full by CDT, to the CCP Central Committee expressing support for protesting Jasic Technology Factory workers. Yue was one of about 50 student activists and workers who were detained while rallying for the protesting workers in Shenzhen. At the South China Morning Post, Guo Rui and Mimi Lau report that Yue is still yet to be seen since the detention, and notes the advocacy techniques of the new generation of Marxist activists that she represents, and that some Chinese universities appear to be targeting:

The detentions were part of an intensifying clampdown by the authorities on a growing number of young Chinese activists who have found inspiration in  in recent years, hoping to bring change on issues ranging from feminism and income equality to workers’ rights.

But in sharp contrast to the official Marxist line, this new generation of Marxists emphasises individual freedoms, with some even showing interest in a Western constitutional democracy – a stand the country’s mainstream Marxists and Maoists usually dismiss as the wrong path for China.

[…] Most of the protesters detained in August have since been released, but four have been placed under “residential  at a designated location” – a form of secret detention – while four others are still in custody and could face prosecution, according to their friends and other activists.

But the whereabouts of Yue, as well as her mother, who has been out of contact since early September, remain unknown. […] [Source] Continue reading