Compacts, Cultivation, and Campaigns: Lives of the Pedagogical State in Modern China

Compacts, Cultivation, and Campaigns: Lives of the Pedagogical State in Modern China

Timothy Cheek - Professor and Louis Cha Chair in Chinese Research, University of British Columbia

Thursday, February 22, 2024 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Room 101 (Auditorium), Henry R. Luce Hall See map
34 Hillhouse
New Haven, CT 06511
The Council on East Asian Studies is pleased to present the 63rd Edward H. Hume Memorial Lecture in Chinese Studies.
A reception will follow the lecture in the Luce Common Room (2nd Floor).

China’s governments and many of its political theorists have championed a “pedagogical state” to create ideal subjects or citizens. Confucian faith in education and Maoist belief in “self-reform” are well known, but how has this worked in practice and what does the history of cultivating the people tell us about Chinese statecraft, past and present? This lecture explores this history through the examples of political education undertaken by the state or on behalf of the nation in China’s recent centuries. With the trio of compacts, cultivation, and campaigns it traces China’s pedagogical state from village-based local public education in civic virtues, to the cultivation of Communist cadres, to “civilization” wenming campaigns today. This story begins with Confucians compacts from as early as the early 11th century, continues in rural education programs in Republican China in the 1930s, re-emerges in Communist ideological remoulding campaigns under Mao, and has appeared once again in political study sessions in Xi Jinping’s China today. In this story the past does not determine the present, but does shape its choices through inherited conditions (such as administering a nation the size of an empire), political culture, and, most significantly, what leaders choose to remember or repress of historical memory.

Timothy Cheek is Professor and Louis Cha Chair in Chinese Research at the Institute of Asian Research in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs and Department of History at The University of British Columbia. His research, teaching and translating focus on the recent history of China, especially the role of Chinese intellectuals in the twentieth century and the history of the Chinese Communist Party. His books include The Intellectual in Modern Chinese History (2015), Living with Reform: China Since 1989 (2006), Mao Zedong and China’s Revolutions (2002) and Propaganda and Culture in Mao’s China (1997), as well as edited volumes, Mao’s Road to Power: Revolutionary Writings, 1912-1949, Vol. VIII (2015) with Stuart R. Schram, The Cambridge Critical Introduction to Mao (2010), and New Perspectives on State Socialism in China (1997), with Tony Saich, amongst others. In recent years Cheek has been working with some Chinese intellectuals to explore avenues of collaborative research and translation.