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Irony, Cynicism, and the Chinese State

Date: 4th and 5th June 2012
Venue: Vera Anstey Room (VAR), Old Building, LSE
Convenors: Hans Steinmüller and Susanne Brandtstädter

Unprecedented social changes have intensified the contradictions between different moral frameworks, official and vernacular discourses, and diverging representations of history and state, in China. Irony and cynicism - encompassing resignation and resistance, political humour, open-ended ambiguities and dialogue - provide an intriguing anthropological perspective on everyday politics. Tying together a series of ethnographic and theoretical contributions, the conference will examine these topics with particular reference to the Chinese state.

This workshop is open to all, but space is limited. In order to request a place please email J.Steinmuller@lse.ac.uk|.

Irony, Cynicism, and the Chinese State is a collaboration between the Departments of Anthropology at LSE and the University of Oslo. We are grateful to the LSE Annual Fund for their generous support.

Workshop programme

Day 1 - Monday 4th June 2012

9:15 - 9:30

Coffee & welcome

9:30 – 9:50

Hans Steinmüller (LSE): “Introduction: Irony, Cynicism, and the Chinese State”

9:50 – 11:20

Panel 1
Chair: Charles Stafford (LSE)

John Flower and Pamela Leonhard (Virginia): “The farmer, the tinker, and the foreman: Irony and floating frames of meaning in Xiakou Village”

Anna Lora-Wainwright (Oxford): “The Odyssey of demolition and resettlement: resetting the moral compass in urbanising China”

11:20 – 11:40

Tea/coffee break 

11:40 – 1:00

Panel 2
Chair: Caroline Humphrey (Cambridge) 

Kevin Latham (SOAS): “Cynicism and New Media”

Liu Xin (Berkeley): “Absolute Privacy or the Moral Irony”

1:00 – 2:00

Lunch

2:00 – 3:20

Panel 3
Chair: Jonathan Mair (Manchester)

Mary Scoggin (Humboldt): “Straight-shooters: Political cartoons and Irony’s Arrow in Contemporary Chinese Political Discourse”

Yang Jie (Simon Fraser): “The Politics of Awkwardness: 'Psychosocial Work' and Psychologisation in China”

3:20 – 3:40

Tea/coffee break 

3:40 – 4:10

Michael Herzfeld (Harvard): Comment

4:10 – 5:00

Discussion

5:00

Drinks & dinner



Day 2 - Tuesday 5th June 2012

9:10 – 9:40

Coffee

9:40 – 11:20

Panel 4
Chair: Stuart Thompson (SOAS)

Jaesok Kim (Pennsylvania): “Awful government and scary gangs: Chinese migrant workers’ cynicism of government and the politics of ‘decent’ wage”

Susanne Brandtstädter (Oslo): “The rebel as trickster and the ironies of resisting in rural China”

John Osburg (Rochester) “Morality and Cynicism in a 'Grey' World”

11:20 – 11:40

Tea/coffee break

11:40 – 1:00

Panel 5
Chair: Kent Deng (LSE)

Meng Bingchun (LSE): “The ironies of networked authoritarianism: Discursive battles on the Chinese Internet”

Judith Audin (Science Po, Paris): “Street-level bureaucrats and the residents: an interactionist perspective on irony in Beijing's urban neighbourhoods”

1:00 – 2:00

Lunch

2:00 – 3:20

Panel 6
Chair: Frances Pine (Goldsmiths)

Katherine Swancutt (Oxford): “The Irony of True Irony in Southwest China”

Stephan Feuchtwang (LSE): “The moral person”

3:20 – 3:40

Tea/coffee break 

3:40 – 4:10

Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov (Cambridge): Comment

4:10 – 5:00

Discussion

5:00

Drinks

 

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