About the talk:
In this webinar, Neil J. Diamant takes a look at what happened when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) encouraged millions of citizens to read, listen to, pose questions about, and suggest revisions to drafts of new constitutions, and the implications of such constitutional talk for how we understand the origins of constitutionalism and political legitimacy. In promulgating constitutions and then allowing people to talk about them, the CCP opened up political space for people to criticize the party, the revolution, and the constitution, which they did in a variety of ways. They pressed authorities to clarify the meaning of words, phrases, and ideas in constitutions and proposed numerous suggestions for revision. Despite these reputational costs, the CCP continues to make constitutions a critical element of its governing strategy. At the same time, citizens continue to refer to constitutions in their contestations with the state despite knowing that its articles are not enforced.

About the speaker:
Neil J. Diamant is the Walter E. Beach ’56 Chair in Political Science and Professor of Asian Law and Society at Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA). He is the author of Revolutionizing the Family: Politics, Love, and Divorce in Urban and Rural China, 1949-1968 (University of California Press, 2000), Embattled Glory: Veterans, Military Families, and the Politics of Patriotism in China, 1949-2007 (Rowman & Littlefield, 2009), Useful Bullshit: Constitutions in Chinese Politics and Society (Cornell University Press, 2021) as well as the co-author of The Politics of Veteran Benefits in the 20th Century: A Comparative History (Cornell University Press, 2020). He is also co-editor of Engaging the Law in China: State, Society, and Possibilities for Justice (Stanford University Press, 2005). He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of California, Berkeley.

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