S.T. Lee Panel Discussion: Perspectives on Democracy and Citizenship in Contemporary China

S.T. Lee Panel Discussion: Perspectives on Democracy and Citizenship in Contemporary China
Friday, February 2, 2024
5:00 p.m. | Wolfensohn Hall 

Recent discussions about democracy in China have tackled themes relevant to its political system as well as its role as a major economic and international force in the contemporary world.  Seen in historical perspective, questions of democracy and citizenship are central nodes in China’s modernity, closely linked to both its political choices and the aspiration of its people. The panelists, eminent experts in modern and contemporary Chinese history, will confront and shed light on such questions, which are critical to a more informed understanding of China’s past and present.

The panel includes: 

Lydia H. Liu is the Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities and former Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia University. She has published extensively on political thought, critical translation theory, Chinese and comparative literature, digital media, and the philosophy of language. Her representative books include The Freudian Robot: Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious (2010), The Clash of Empires: The Invention of China in Modern World Making (2004), The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory (co-edited, 2013) as well as Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity (1995). Her latest article “After Turing: How Philosophy Migrated to the AI Lab” appeared in Critical Inquiry in Autumn 2023, and her new book Global Language Justice (co-edited) was published by Columbia University Press in November 2023. Liu was a 2018–19 Member of the School of Historical Studies at IAS.
Teemu Ruskola is Professor of Law as well as Professor of East Asian Languages & Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania. His work addresses questions of legal history and theory from multiple perspectives, comparative as well as international, frequently with China as a vantage point. Ruskola is the author of Legal Orientalism: China, the United States, and Modern Law (Harvard University Press, 2013), co-author of Schlesinger’s Comparative Law (Foundation Press, 2009), and co-editor (with David L. Eng and Shuang Shen) of a special issue of the journal Social Text on “China and the Human.” He is currently finishing two books. The first, The Unmaking of the Chinese Working Class, analyzes the ongoing reorganization of capital, labor, and land in China in light of both the English Enclosure Movement and the post-socialist transition in the Soviet Union. His second project, China, For Example: China and the Making of Modern International Law, investigates the history and politics of the introduction of North Atlantic conceptions of sovereignty into China. Ruskola was a 2014–15 Member of the School of Historical Studies at IAS.
Wang Hui is Distinguished Professor of Literature and History and founding Director of the Tsinghua Institute for Advanced Study in Humanities and Social Sciences at Tsinghua University, Beijing. His work has attempted to chart the intellectual and political conditions of contemporary China and has remained committed to the project of deep engagement with both the history and the consequences of Chinese modernity.  From 1996–2007, he served as the chief editor of Dushu Magazine, the most influential intellectual journal in China.  He has published extensively on Chinese intellectual history, literature, and engaged in debates on historical and contemporary issues. His books have been translated into different languages. The English language translations include The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought (2023), China’s Twentieth Century (2015), China: From Empire to Nation-State (2014), The Politics of Imagining Asia (2010), The End of Revolution (2009) and China’s New Order (2003). Wang is a current Member in the School of Historical Studies at IAS.
Peter Zarrow is Professor of History at the University of Connecticut and Adjunct Research Fellow at Academia Sinica.  He is the author of numerous studies of modern Chinese thought and culture.  His most recent publication is a translation of essays by the pioneering political journalist Liang Qichao (1873–1929), Thoughts from the Ice-Drinker’s Studio: Essays on China and the World (Penguin, 2023). Zarrow was a 2022–23 Member of the School of Historical Studies at IAS.
Nicola Di Cosmo is the Henry Luce Professor in East Asian Studies in the School of Historical Studies at IAS since 2003.  He has worked mostly on the history of the relations between China and Inner Asia from antiquity to the early modern period. He has authored, co-authored, and edited over a dozen books, including Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History (2002), Military Culture in Imperial China (2009), and Empires and Exchanges in Eurasian Late Antiquity, Rome, China, Iran, and the Steppe, ca. 250-750 (2018). Most recently he has been researching questions related to climatic impact in past societies and historical approaches to climate reconstructions, in collaboration with climate scientists, archaeologists and historians.

This public lecture is made possible by the S.T. Lee Fund for Historical Studies.