“Comparative Enlightenments” Forum at Wesleyan

Last weekend, Wesleyan hosted an interdisciplinary forum on “comparative enlightenments” that blog readers might find interesting; read here for an account in English, and here for a Chinese summary. Keynote remarks were offered by Wang Weiguang and Gao Xiang of CASS and Hayden White of Stanford. Participants included philosophers like Chen Lai (Tsinghua), Wu Genyou (Wuhan), Ding Yun (Fudan), Han Shuifa (Beijing), and Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia), as well as literary theorists and historians. (It’s interesting to note the differences of emphasis in the two write-ups :-).)

5 replies on ““Comparative Enlightenments” Forum at Wesleyan”

  1. I’ve seen divergent reports about this. Until now my impression (based mainly on personal experience from 1989-90, a million years ago; and from Beijing bookstores visited in 2009) has been that discussion of abstract liberal theory is hardly limited at all — that the main taboos are about discussion of Chinese specifics.

    In a newsgroup I subscribe to, Tsinghua professor Sun Saiyin wrote on May 11: “I can verify that I have never received such instructions, or anything similar. … None of the listed ‘seven topics’ are ever deliberately avoided in my classroom.”

    Can anyone shed more light?

    • An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (5/20/13) convinces me of the reality of the directive.

      “While many faculty members said they had not been briefed by university administrators about the taboos, and in some cases had never heard of them, several professors said university leaders had instructed them at the beginning of May to avoid the subjects in class.”

      The Chronicle and the Epoch Times article linked earlier give slightly different lists of 7 items. They agree on five items:

      universal values,
      freedom of the press,
      civil society,
      the Communist Party’s historical [i.e. past] errors,
      judicial independence.

      But where the Epoch Times says “crony elites,” the Chronicle says “the wealth accumulated by top government officials.”

      And where the Epoch Times says “civil rights,” the Chronicle says “economic neoliberalism.”

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