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Wang Hui - "The Decline of Representation: Another Inquiry on the Equality of What"

Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - 4:45pm to Wednesday, September 5, 2012 - 10:00am

Kaufmann Auditorium, Goldwin Smith Hall (September 4th)
Toboggan Lodge, Cornell University (September 5th)

Wang Hui (Professor, Chinese Language and Literature, Tsinghua University)

In the aftermath of the Cold War, democratic political systems did not undergo any significant formal changes, yet democracy at the social level is in crisis everywhere. In China, which still maintains the socialist system, while the system and form of government has also not undergone fundamental change, society has been so powerfully transformed that there is constant discussion about just what kind of society it is. While most commentators (in frequently polemical exchanges) trace the divergences between China and those democracies back to differences in their political systems, at its core, the current political crisis stems from the separation of the political system from the social form. The crisis in political legitimation is a consequence of the breakdown of representation within the political system—that is, the separation of the political and the social. Before turning to the features that mark the breakdown of representation, the talk will analyze how this separation and breakdown came about in the two social systems by engaging the critical question of the equality of what. Two of the key concepts driving this inquiry are the “equality of all things” and “equality-in-difference.”



Wednesday September 5, 2012

10:00 am – 12:00 pm 
Toboggan Lodge
38 Forest Home Drive

The seminar is open to the public and will be devoted to a discussion of the issues raised by an essay ("How to Explain 'China' and Its 'Modernity': Rethinking The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought") which appeared in a 2011 collection of Professor Wang's writing entitled The Politics of Imagining Asia (Harvard University Press).  The essay can be accessed here [LINK TO PAPER].

Wang Hui is a professor of Chinese Language and Literature at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His research focuses on modern Chinese literature and intellectual history. He was the executive editor (with Huang Ping) of the influential magazine Dushu (Reading) from May 1996 to July 2007. The U.S. magazine Foreign Policy named him as one of the top 100 public intellectuals in the world in May 2008. Wang Hui is the recipient of many awards for his scholarship, and is the author of numerous monographs in Chinese including From An Asian Perspective: The Narrations of Chinese History (2010); For Alternative Voices (2009); Depoliticized Politics (2008); The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought (four volumes, 2004–2009); and Rekindling Frozen Fire: The Paradox of Modernity (2000). Books translated into English include The Politics of Imagining Asia (edited by Theodore Huters, Harvard University Press, 2011), The End of Revolution: China and the Limits of Modernity (Verso, 2010); China’s New Order: Society, Politics, and Economy in Transition, translated by Theodore Huters and Rebecca Karl (Harvard University Press, 2003). Books translated into Japanese and Korean include  Shiso Kukan toshite no gendai chugoku. (Modern China as a Space for Thinking), translated by Murata Yujiro, Nasuyama Yukio, and Onodera Shiro (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2006), and A New Asian Imagination (Seoul: Creation and Criticism Press, 2003).

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