Northwestern Events Calendar


"Reading the China Dream through the Writings of China’s Public Intellectuals" A conversation with David Ownby (Université de Montréal)

When: Monday, January 30, 2023
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM CT

Where: University Hall, Hagstrum Room 201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Peter Carroll   (847) 491-2753

Group: East Asia Research Forum

Co-Sponsor: Center for Historical Studies
History Department

Category: Academic


Please join the East Asia Research Forum for a talk given by David Ownby (Université de Montréal) as he explores this Chinese “republic of letters” on his blog “Reading the China Dream,” and will talk about what he has learned about Chinese thinkers, Chinese thought, and Chinese politics. 

Reform and opening has transformed Chinese intellectual life just as it has transformed China’s economy and society—if perhaps not Chinese politics.  Since the 1980s, China’s embrace of globalization has encouraged scholarly exchange, the rise and spread of the Internet, and the marketization and diversification of the publishing industry (books, magazines, online platforms).  China remains an authoritarian state, and there are limits to what can be said, but the fact that Chinese intellectuals cannot say everything they want to does not mean that they cannot say anything they want to.  This remains true despite Xi Jinping’s best efforts to reimpose ideological discipline.

About the speaker:

Professor David Ownby:

His main research interests has to do with the history of religion in modern and contemporary China. He has worked mainly on popular groups, having conducted field research in China, Taiwan and North America. The development of the religious fact in China since the latter 19th century is extremely complex, and we cannot study popular religion without considering the aims of the Chinese government and the posture of institutionalized religions. Given the religious rebirth in China since the end of the Maoist era, even historical research on this subject is important from a contemporary point of view.

With colleagues from York University and UBC, Ownby has also launched a new research program on contemporary intellectual life in China. The project explores the complex relations between the growing freedom of expression for intellectuals, the cultural search for an identity that will be both modern and Chinese, and the pressing need for Chinese political authorities to find a new ideological legitimacy. This program is now funded through an SSHRC Insight grant.



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