China as Crypto-Colony

anuANU China Seminar Series

China as Crypto-Colony: A Critical Approach to ‘National Culture’
Professor Michael Herzfeld

Seminar Room A, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, ANU, Canberra
16:00 to 17:30Thursday, 25 August, 2016

Using examples drawn from the fields of religion and heritage studies and also from his recent encounters with Chinese academia, the speaker will ask to what extent it is useful to include China in a discussion of “crypto-colonialism” – a phenomenon that, he has argued, fits Thailand and Greece (as well as Afghanistan, Iran, and Nepal) particularly well, but that may have heuristic potential for understanding the cultural politics of the most powerful East Asian country in the world today. He will offer some examples of how crypto-colonialism operates in Greece and Thailand in order to ask whether and how such a comparative approach can be illuminating for China scholars.

Michael Herzfeld is Ernest E. Monrad Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University, where has taught since 1991. He is also IIAS Visiting Professor of Critical Heritage Studies at the University of Leiden (and Senior Advisor to the Critical Heritage Studies Initiative of the International Institute for Asian Studies, Leiden); Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne; and Visiting Professor and Chang Jiang (Yangtze River) Scholar at Shanghai International Studies University (2015-17). The author of eleven books — including Cultural Intimacy: Social Poetics in the Nation-State (1997; 3rd edition, 2016), The Body Impolitic: Artisans and Artifice in the Global Hierarchy of Value (2004), Evicted from Eternity: The Restructuring of Modern Rome (2009), and Siege of the Spirits: Community and Polity in Bangkok (2016) — and numerous articles and reviews, he has also produced two ethnographic films (Monti Moments [2007] and Roman Restaurant Rhythms [2011]). He has served as editor of American Ethnologist (1995-98) and is currently editor-at-large (responsible for “Polyglot Perspectives”) at Anthropological Quarterly. He is also a member of the editorial boards of several other journals, including International Journal of Heritage Studies, Anthropology Today, and South East Asia Research. An advocate for “engaged anthropology,” he has conducted research in Greece, Italy, and Thailand on, inter alia, the social and political impact of historic conservation and gentrification, the discourses and practices of crypto-colonialism, social poetics, the dynamics of nationalism and bureaucracy, and the ethnography of knowledge among artisans and intellectuals.