Development Seminar: Yan Hairong

Date/Time
Date(s) - 15/01/2016
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location
AP 246

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Friday, January 15, 2016

Prof. Yan Hairong (The Hong Kong Polytechnic University)
Suzhi (素质 ) Travels: Northeast Asia, China, Africa
Development Seminar
12:00-2:00pm, AP 246, 19 Russell St.
A light lunch will be provided, please register below.

In the reform era, suzhi (quality) has emerged as a new conceptual template to understand and justify competition and mobility. Drawing upon archival and field research data, this talk will trace the historical trajectory and current global circulation of suzhi. The concept of the national quality was present not only among social thinkers in Europe (e.g. Weber), but also among post-colonial nationalists in Asia and Africa. I will begin with the Japanese usage in the 19th Century and track how it travelled to China and Korea in the early 20th Century context of Japanese colonialism. I will then examine the competing discourses of suzhi and class in 20th Century China, the neoliberalization of suzhi (partly detached from the nation) since the 1990s, and the travel of suzhi with Chinese who “go global” to Africa. The logic that links this concept’s historical and national instances will be discussed with the audience.

Yan Hairong is the author of New Masters, New Servants: Migration, Development, and Women Workers in China (Duke University Press, 2008). She has published in disciplinary and area-study journals. Her current research projects focus on global China and include “Rural China in globalization: the soybean crisis and its everyday impact” (PI) and “Going local while going local?: Chinese enterprise localization in Africa and in comparative perspective” (Co-I).

The Development Seminar is an interdisciplinary initiative that critically examines issues of global inequality, postcolonial politics, and power in the Global South, broadly conceived. Guest speakers bring theoretical questions into tension with their innovative research – on issues that include rural and urban livelihoods, planning, public health, gender, security, and finance.

The Seminar is sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Science, with additional support from the Departments of Anthropology, Geography, Political Science, and Sociology. This year’s seminar coordinators are Mark Hunter (Associate Professor, Geography, UTSC) and Jacob Nerenberg (Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, St. George).

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