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Workshop "Postcolonialism and China?"


Marius Meinhof (University Bielefeld)
Felix Wemheuer (University of Cologne)

Postcolonialism has become one of the most influential paradigms in cultural studies as well as in various area studies, and their influence in the social sciences seems to be on the rise in the last decades. However, the English language discourses on China payed little attention to postcolonial theories so far. In spite of some fruitful critique of the earliest postcolonial authors such as Edward Said, China studies and related fields seem to have widely ignored the debates in postcolonial studies, and seem to be unaware of most of its recent developments.

However, a (critical) engagement with postcolonial theory seems to be, almost unavoidable for future debates on China: Memories of colonialism have a relevance in China that cannot be plausibly reduced to anti-western propaganda. At the same time, it is unclear even today how to address these colonial experiences and the way they shaped Chinese history since the 19th century: As a variety of colonialism, as semi-colonialism, or as multiple colonialisms and semi-colonialisms within the same country? How could colonialism leave a heritage that is visible even in current debates about national modernization and development, and the mission of overcoming Chinese “backwardness”. When answering this question, it seems necessary to consider the possibility of globally entangled, multiple power structures, in which Chinese people might simultaneously be dominated and dominating, represented and representing, peripheral and central - especially given the “rise of China” within a still western dominated world order.

Friday, 20.01.2017

13:00 – 13:15 Welcome Note

13:15 – 14:15 Keynote
Daniel Vukovich (University of Hong Kong)

14:15 – 14:45 Welcome Address
Felix Wemheuer (UoC): Postcolonialism and Marxism

15:00 – 17:00 Session 1
Historic Memory and (De-)Colonization

Jon Howlett (University of York): Socialist Decolonization: the elimination of Western influences from Shanghai after 1949

Shen Chencheng (University of Augsburg): Colonial history in popular history magazines in today’s China

Wang Qiang (Beijing Foreign Studies University): The West in a College English Textbook Series in China

17:15 – 18:15 Keynote 2
Emily Wilcox (University of Michigan): The Postcolonial Blind Spot: Chinese Dance in the Era of Third Worldism, 1949-1965

Saturday, 21.01.2017

9:00-10:00 Keynote 3
Wang Mingming (Beijing University): Is postcolonialism relevant to China?

10:00-12:00 Session 2
Entanglements of Knowledge and Practices

Wang Liping (University of Hong Kong): The Ethnographic State and Multivocal Nationalism: Production of Knowledge on Ethnicity in Republican China, 1912-1949​

Lili Zhu (Bielefeld University): From “The Art of War” to “The Force of War”. Colonialism and the Chinese Perception of War in Transition

Junchen Yan (Bielefeld University): The Triumphant Discourse of Waiqi Bailing and the Need to Construct the Good Other

12:00 – 14:00 Lunch Break

14:00-16:00 Session 3
Discourses on Modernity

Marina Rudyak (University of Heidelberg): Postcolonialism, China and Development(Aid)

Marius Meinhof (Bielefeld University): Colonial Temporality in Chinese “National Modernization” Discourses

Horst J. Helle (LMU Munich): Ambivalences in Individualization and Familism

16:00-18:00 Session 4
Alternative Conceptions of Chineseness and Modernity

Lena Springer (Needham Research Institute, Cambridge): Old Formulae for the People’s Diseases – World Revolution Based on Ancient Archives

Sarah Sandfort (University Bochum): Hung Keung and the Chinese art exhibition concept “Yellow Box”