China and Inner Asia
International College of Innovation, National Chengchi University, Taiwan (Republic of China)
Session Abstract: Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, political unrest in Hong Kong, and rumblings of a “new Cold War,” speculations about “the future of China” have become ever-more ubiquitous, dominated by discourses about the Chinese state’s role in a shifting global order. Challenging these state-centric perspectives, this panel investigates future-making within Chinese communities — spanning the Mainland, Hong Kong, and Chinese diaspora — as a constellation of collective, personal, and grassroots activities. Drawing upon literature, arts, new media, and ethnographic studies, the four papers explore the ways in which diverse social agents craft futures that disaggregate, pathologize, or contest dominant images of China’s future. Our panel suggests that the analysis of futurity might be a critical vantage point from which to study the affective entanglements between state and grassroots, future and history, reality and fiction. Xiaobo Yuan examines Chinese Christians’ aspirations toward global missionization, and suggests thinking about conversion as a speculative act. Engaging with Pak Sheung Chuen’s artwork about Hong Kong, Pang Laikwan explores the role of art in thinking and acting upon yet-undetermined futures of a city under threat. Turning to the urban fringes of Beijing, Tzu-Chi Ou examines how grassroots service-centers develop utopian imaginations among migrant workers. In a discussion of the “Dongbei Renaissance,” a transmedial boom in cultural productions about socio-economic tumult in Northeast China, Shiqi Lin explores a “ruinated futurity” in which restorative potentials emerge from trauma and disaster. Together, these papers attend to the layers of politics, aesthetics, affect, and desire embedded in multiple horizons of futurity.
Paper Presenter: Xiaobo Yuan – Whitman College
Paper Presenter: Shiqi Lin – University of California, Irvine
Paper Presenter: Laikwan Pang – The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Paper Presenter: Tzu-Chi Ou – International College of Innovation, National Chengchi University