Changing Referents: Learning Across Space and Time in China and the West

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Speaker: Prof. Leigh Jenco, London School of Economics

A talk and discussion by Leigh Jenco about her book 'Changing Referents: Learning Across Space and Time in China and the West.'

Changing Referents: Learning Across Space and Time in China and the West argues by example that Chinese thought can aid us in thinking through global problems, not only ‘Chinese’ or ‘East Asian’ ones. It examines a decades-long Chinese conversation over ‘Western Learning,’ starting in the mid-nineteenth century. The call of reformers such as Liang Qichao and Yan Fu to bianfa—literally ‘change the institutions’ of Chinese society and politics to produce new kinds of Western knowledge—was simultaneously a call to ‘change the referents’ those institutions sought to emulate, and from which participants might draw their self-understanding.

Leigh Jenco (BA, Bard College; MA and PhD, University of Chicago) joined LSE in 2012. Previously she was appointed Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Political Theory Project, Brown University, USA (2007-2008); and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the National University of Singapore (2008-2012). She situates her research and much of her teaching at the intersection of contemporary political theory and modern Chinese thought, emphasizing the theoretical and not simply historical value of Chinese discourses on politics. Her current project, partially supported by a major grant from the Humanities in the European Research Area, explores Chinese colonial discourse on Taiwan in comparative.

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