LECTURE: Ecological Critique of Alienation in Recent Chinese Science Fiction
University of Kansas
March 4, 2021; 4:00 – 5:30 PM CST 2:00 – 3:30 PM PST
Capitalist industrialization, wrote Marx, “is a progress in the art, not only of robbing the worker, but of robbing the soil.” Robbing workers means alienated labor whereby workers have no say over their work and are exploited and exposed to health hazards. Robbing nature refers to the extraction of natural resources for capital accumulation and endless growth. In ecological ecology, humans are an integral part of nature and the alienation of nature is the flipside of the alienation of workers. This dual alienation may offer an insight into recent Chinese SF fiction. Chinese SF writers have explored environmental crises, alienation of labor, social disintegration, and technologically induced class disparity in the context of globalization, technological advances, and geopolitical competition. This talk will discuss critiques of these anti-ecological trends by Chen Qiufan, Hao Jingfang, and Liu Cixin.
Ban Wang is the William Haas Professor in Chinese Studies in East Asian Languages and Cultures and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. His major publications include The Sublime Figure of History (1997), Illuminations from the Past (2004), History and Memory (Lishi yu jiyi) (2004), and China in the World: Culture, Politics, and World Vision (forthcoming 2021). He has edited and co-edited 8 book on China, trauma, cinema studies, and cultural studies, including the recent anthology Chinese Visions of World Order (2017), Words and Their Stories (2011) and Trauma and Cinema (2004). He has taught at SUNY-Stony Brook, Harvard, Rutgers, East China Normal University, Yonsei, and Seoul National University.