Event Details

Thursday, October 27, 2016, 5:00 PM
Department of Comparative Literature
Seminar: Speaking with the Silent Majority: the Rise of Minjian Intellectuals


Message from Department of Comparative Literature Event Poster Speaking with the Silent Majority: the Rise of Minjian Intellectuals Speaker: Sebastian Veg Time: 5:00 p.m. Date: October 27, 2016 (Thursday) Location: Room 7.58 Run Run Shaw Tower About the Seminar: Whereas, throughout the 20th century, intellectuals in China defined themselves through a posture of responsibility for the affairs of the nation and the state (“taking the world under the heavens as one’s responsibility”), in the last twenty years, positions have become more diverse and more complex. Beginning in the 1990s, intellectuals were no longer exclusively affiliated with state work units, and their income sources became more diverse. Many began to question the “grand narratives” of modernization and democracy, which had cemented the elite consensus over “reform” in the 1980s. Criticizing intellectuals' traditional elitist bias, they shifted their interests to concrete problems, often associated with people situated not at the center but at the margins of society, famously described by Wang Xiaobo as the “silent majority” or “weak groups” (ruoshi qunti). Some of them began to work for NGOs, or study sensitive topics, or produce documentary films. As the public sphere broadened to include the internet and social media, new forms of interventions appeared, along with alternative spaces. This presentation will attempt to assess the changes that have taken place and to connect them with several theoretical questions related to definitions of the intellectual and of the public sphere. About the Speaker: Sebastian Veg is a Professor (directeur d’études) of intellectual history and literature of 20th century China at the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (EHESS), Paris and an honorary assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong. He was director of the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC) in Hong Kong from 2011 to 2015. His interests are in 20th century Chinese intellectual history, literature, and political debates. His doctoral research was devoted to modernism and democracy in the May Fourth era (Fictions du pouvoir chinois. Littérature, modernisme et démocratie au début du xxe siècle, Paris: Editions de l’EHESS, 2009), followed by a second project on the new role of intellectuals in China since the 1990s. He is the co-principal investigator for a France-Hong Kong research grant on “New Approaches to the Mao Era: everyday history and popular memory.” Most recently, he has also worked closely on cultural and political debates in Hong Kong. All are Welcome For registration: https://goo.gl/forms/gB34tVttev0j67xs1 Please contact Kasey Wong manmanw@hku.hk with any questions. Co-organized by: The Department of Comparative Literature Center for the Study of Globalization and Cultures, HKU

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