Can the Diaspora Contribute to Africa’s Development?

IGS was very pleased to join the Heller School in cosponsoring a day-long conference on Africa’s development.  The economic growth in Nigeria, Rwanda, and throughout East Africa shows that this is probably more than just a commodity boom: we might be looking a real, long-term expansion.

Which leads to some interesting questions.  Why is growth now so much more robust?  And what can be done to make it sustainable — in both the sense of enduring and healthy? Does the African diaspora have a significant role to play?

 

 

China’s Investments in Africa: Neocolonialism or Mutual Development?

A fascinating event to end the semester!

Africa-China: Mutual Influence in the Early 21st Century 

Thursday, April 26th , 6:00 PM-7:30 PM
Shiffman Humanities Center 120 (Inside Mandel Quad, across from Olin-Sang and Rabb)

A Roundtable Discussion Featuring

Joseph Assan (Assistant Professor, Heller School)
Xing Hang (Associate Professor, History)
Derek Sheridan (Lecturer, Anthropology)
Elanah Uretsky (Visiting Assistant Professor, Anthropology)

My question, for anyone who would like to comment: is China treating Africa the way that European colonists did?  Or is China, a fellow developing country, simply trying to find mutual benefit from its investments in Africa?  Or are we seeing some combination of the two?

 

Human Flow Screening

Date: April 12th

Location: Schwartz 112

Time: 6 PM

Join the History of Ideas program for the third movie night of this spring to view Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow. The film examines the massive scale of the modern refugee crisis by following refugee stories from around the world. Come by to watch and discuss this incredibly influential film.

Here’s a question for viewers to respond to, if they like: what do you think the refugees of the world need most to start their new lives?  Citizenship?  Work? A new home?  Who could best help them get what they need?

The Life Equation Film Screening

Date: April 18th

Location: Wasserman Cinematheque

Time: 1:30PM-3:30PM

Join the class of Critical Perspectives on Health for the screening and presentation of the film, The Life Equation which discusses the topic of global health in the era of big data. The event will include a viewing of the film, and a Q and A session with the Emmy-award winning director Rob Tinworth. Stop by this great event to learn more about this amazing film.

And here’s a question for people who saw the film: what do think is the greatest potential benefit of big data for global health?  What is the greatest danger of using big data to allocate resources?

Do We Patronize North Korea?

Professor Sung-Yoon Lee of Tufts University gave an erudite talk today on a rather gruesome subject: the true nature of the North Korean regime that we so often mock but rarely take seriously.  I was especially moved by his account of the country’s 1990s famine, which could have been eradicated for $100 million, if only the North Korean regime had thought millions of lives were worth cutting a slice off its $7 billion military budget.

I was left reconsidering my own attitude towards the “Hermit Kingdom.”  Do we patronize North Korea when we laugh at its leader’s haircut?  If we reward the North Koreans — again — for pausing their nuclear tests, are we giving them the tools to continue oppressing their population?  Do we lose sight of the true nature of the North Korea problem if we get so caught up in negotiations that we overlook the sheer viciousness of the regime?

But no doubt you have your own responses to Professor Lee’s talk.  What did you hear that changed the way you think about the problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program?

Another fabulous David Wang lecture, and two questions

David Wang’s lecture this afternoon about ghosts in contemporary Chinese fiction was another tour de force.  Such a wonderful exploration of intriguing question: if China became an atheistic and realist society after 1949, why is are its writers now so fascinated by spirits and the transmigration of souls?Image result for life and death are wearing me out

The lecture left me with a lot of questions about the life of the imagination in China today, but also had me wondering about alternative histories — the particular kind of haunting sense that the world could have been different.  So you can answer either of the following two questions:

  1. What story of imaginary hauntings intrigued you the most, and why?  Is there a novel you will now read based on Professor Wang’s suggestions?  Or…
  2. In what sense do you imagine the world we have studied is in some way haunted by an historical legacy?  If you could write a novel with a haunting or an alternative history, what would it be?  Which of the styles that Prof. Wang mentioned would your novel resemble?

Global Greentalk

The Global Greentalk Society is a new student organization on campus centering around the effect of pollution and climate change, specifically on China. The society is hosting a variety of events throughout the month of March, including moving screenings and guest speaker panels. The first event is going to be March 8th, and involve the viewing of the 2016 documentary “Plastic China”in Lown 301.

Come out to support this new student-run organization and learn about the consequ-
ences of plastic use in China. Additionally visit there Facebook event page below to stay updated with other events happening this month. 

https://www.facebook.com/events/178090509468884/

David Wang: Why Fiction Matters in Contemporary China

We all thought Professor David Wang’s lectures on contemporary Chinese literature would be interesting.  But from the first one last night, we now know:

  1. The talks will touch on a lot of themes IGS 10a has discussed in class and…
  2. Prof. Wang is very funny.

Last night’s talk, on “Red Star Over America: The Politics of Transgression” got me thinking about the relationship between literature and national identity.  Professor Wang noted that the current Chinese government wants its citizens to “tell the good China story.”   He described this as a nationalist request, and contrasted it to the many examples of current literature that tell all kinds of other stories.

So I started wondering: what is the relationship between narrative fiction and nationalism?  Does nationalism always come from the government?  Is there something nationalist about telling the “xiao shuo” — the small stories — of ordinary people?  Or is the freedom to tell one’s own story the opposite of collective nationalism?

There are two more lectures in the series:

Tuesday, March 6: 4:30-6 pm
“Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out: The Ghost in Socialist Transmigration.”

Thursday, March 8: 4:30-6 pm
“The Dark Night Gives Black Eyes: The Art of Transillumination.”

All lectures are in Mandel G03.  I’ll have questions for each of these as well.

Prof. Wang will also give a lunch seminar on Thursday, March 8 at 12 noon in Mandel 303.  If you want to attend the lunch seminar on Thursday, please read this as background first.

Jesse Appell ’12, comedian in China, returns to Brandeis!

On Monday, February 12, IGS was delighted to welcome back one of its most distinguished alumni: Jesse Appell ’12, former Fulbright scholar in China and now one of a handful of “weiguoren” making a living as a comedian in Beijing.

Jesse had us all laughing at his adventures living in Shanghai and making a “knock-off Saturday Night Live for the Chinese internet giant iQiYi.  With just a week to write every episode of the show from scratch, Jesse and his team from Beijing would scour social media material on the celebrity host, try out stunts in their hotel rooms, type jokes madly and hope for success at the weekly table reads.  Jesse showed us a few clips from his appearances, including his recounting of losing two e-bikes to thieves.  He also detailed what it takes to get material on a major media platform in China once the show’s been taped — the layers of approval, with caution and boldness wrestling at every step.

All of which left me wondering: what surprised you most about Jesse’s stories?  In this incredible tale of a foreigner making his way in Chinese comedy, what impressed you the most?