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In Session: Comparing Cultures of Education in Asia: Anthropological and Ethnographic Perspectives
3: Experimental Citizenship: Toward a Comparative Research Agenda in Globalizing Asia
Monday, March 22, 2021
12:30pm – 2:00pm EDT
Boston University, United States
Based on ethnographic fieldwork among university students in Guangzhou, China, my research examines how socialist morality and neoliberal aspirations mediate young people’s changing understandings about responsible citizenship. My questions about the demoralizing impact of the globalizing economy are relevant not only in China but also in other Asian nations. Particularly fascinating is the comparison between China and India—two rapidly rising nations that have simultaneously witnessed tremendous economic development and the reemergence of ethnic nationalism in the early twenty-first century. In encountering sociocultural transformations brought about by changing consumption habits and youthful desires, how do youths in China and India experience and negotiate new connections with their communities and the political states? How do we explain similarities and differences in youthful ways of political (dis)engagement in authoritarian China and democratic India? This comparison brings to light the cultural and economic interconnectedness among political entities that appeared to be vastly divergent in structure and kind, demonstrating the imbrication of national politics and other regional currents at play. In light of emerging scholarly interests in the comparisons of China and India, this paper uses the study of education and citizenship to illuminate potentials and challenges in the pursuit of a rigorously comparative agenda.