China and Inner Asia
During the past two decades, the number of mainland Chinese students in classrooms outside the People’s Republic has dramatically increased, while foreign students at Chinese universities have also become more visible. Such internationalization of the student body has made “China” a source of sometimes uncomfortable classroom conversation with diverse and often fundamentally conflicting views vying for primacy. In this context, both students and university professors find themselves treading a minefield of ideological framing and/or as representatives of their home countries. What lies behind these dangers and discomfort? Why has globalization failed to lead to greater convergence? On what platforms, ideologies and norms are students and teachers basing assertions of the legitimacy of their respective narratives about China? And to what extent are the priorities of the Trump and Xi administrations further entrenching or re-shaping these views?
To discuss—and attempt to answer—some of these questions, this roundtable, chaired by Richard Madsen alongside five China specialists, draws on first-hand insights gained at major research universities and liberal arts colleges in countries ranging from Britain, Finland and Germany to the United States, Australia and mainland China and Hong Kong. Through bold thinking, lively dialogue, and rigorous audience involvement, we approach the topic from interdisciplinary perspectives of politics, history, sociology, international relations, and education.
Kerry Brown looks into the disparate and changing political backgrounds for classroom China in the age of higher education globalization. Alisa Jones sheds light on how history and education have been harnessed to serve identity politics and the impact this has had on ideological practices of citizenship. To identify recent trends, Dong Wang explicates how the changing demography and geographical locations is impacting the way she teaches courses on China. Analyzing roots of sentiments, activism, and the ideological baggage seen in classroom China, David Kenley asks whose narratives have hitherto prevailed, whether such narratives are global or national, inclusive or exclusive, and who can or should police their boundaries. Finally, Robert Sutter reflects on the implications of the global surge in populist and nationalist movements for re-thinking and re-writing about China in the Trump and Xi years.