Conferences by Year

Imagining Globality: China’s Global Projects in Culture

University of Alberta
Edmonton, Canada
June 12-14, 2013

The China Institute at the University of Alberta will be hosting a conference to explore China's global projects in culture and how these projects variously imagine a global world and China's place in it. Dr. Pál Nyíri, Professor of Global History from Vrije Universiteit (the Netherlands) and Dr. Xinyu Lv, Professor and Director of the School of Journalism at Fudan University, will give keynote addresses.

Recent popular and academic discourses have speculated much on "China's rise" and its implications for the future global order. Representations of China, which oscillate between a positive 'rise' or negative 'threat', bestow on the Chinese state, explicitly or implicitly, the power to make the world over according to its own desires. The concept of global projects (as theorized by Anna Tsing) enables us, however, to analyse larger global processes as a composite of projects. Such global projects may work together or to conflicting ends, but each is culturally and institutionally specific and thereby circumscribed in its ability to shape the global order according to its own imagined globality.

As 'soft power' issues increasingly make their way into China's official state discourse, it becomes necessary to consider the ways in which individuals and organizations in and from China are engaging with the world through culture, both officially and unofficially. The images and imaginaries being generated through the various cultural global projects emanating from China are significant in understanding how Chinese individuals and organizations see China, how they hope to be seen by others, and how they are discursively negotiating China's shifting place in the world.

This interdisciplinary conference will bring together scholars from diverse backgrounds to explore the ways in which China has in the recent past and is today engaging with the world culturally. We invite submissions from scholars in the social sciences and humanities whose research engages with the following broad themes:

  1. China Imagined: In what ways are the Chinese state, organizations and individuals portraying China? Who are the key actors (or what are the key events) shaping projected images of China? To what ends do such representations work? What tensions and/or contradictions may exist across different depictions or in what ways might they be mutually reinforcing?
  2. Globalities Imagined: In what ways do China's various global projects imagine the world, and in particular China's role/place in it? In what ways do depictions intended for global circulation and consumption reinforce or contradict narratives intended for home audiences? What intellectual/social/cultural contributions is China generating to address global issues?
  3. Cultural Political Economy: In what ways is Chinese culture being used as a resource in global engagements (cultural, political, economic, or otherwise) and to what purpose? In what ways is cultural power tied to China's growing economic and political interests?

Imagining Globality