This workshop is intended to serve as the first in a series of annual Irvine gatherings devoted to placing contemporary Chinese phenomena into both interdisciplinary and comparative perspective, taking advantage of the depth of knowledge about Chinese society spread across several UC Irvine schools, as well as the rising interest among non-China specialists in bringing data from and case studies of the country into comparative studies. The events will also draw attention to the richness of expertise on China in the Southern California area as a whole, something that UCI is uniquely placed to showcase.
The focus of this inaugural symposium is on the mixture of excitement and anxiety that has been triggered by China’s recent economic boom, increased enmeshment in international structures and systems, and growing geopolitical clout. We live in a moment of strongly articulated hopes related to China, some of them invoked by Xi Jinping’s “Chinese Dream” allusions and expressed in the posters that promote this slogan. Competing with Xi’s optimistic visions of a resurgent China and individual tales of upward mobility is a constellation of fears and worries. These relate to everything from daily life concerns of health and well being, to broad concerns about corruption, censorship, and the way that the country’s rapid development threatens the global environment.