What Is Going to Happen Next? How Chinese Cultural Knowledge Helps to Pattern Experience
Charles Stafford, Richard E. Barnard Visiting Fellow in Chinese Studies, discusses numbers & numerancy and human attachment & separation in Chinese culture
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
4357 Bunche Hall
Charles Stafford (London School of Economics & Political Science) is the Richard E. Barnard Visiting Fellow in Chinese Studies, UCLA, for 2004-05.
In his public talk, Professor Stafford will focus on two very different types of Chinese cultural knowledge, both of which help people answer the question: "What is going to happen next?" The first is knowledge related to numbers and numeracy. As is well known, numbers are often used to help predict the future in China, on the basis that the logic of the universe is in some sense mathematical. The second kind of knowledge is about human relationships, and more specifically about the problematics of human attachment and separation. Cultural knowledge in this domain arguably provides a basic 'script' for human relationships, and helps to impose a kind of logical pattern on the flow of emotional life.
* * *
Charles Stafford (B.A. in Humanities, University of Texas at Austin, and PhD in Social Anthropology, University of London) is Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is a distinguished anthropologist of China and Taiwan and a leading scholar in the subfields of anthropological studies of popular religion and child development, having published two single-authored books, one edited volume, a journal special issue, and more than a dozen research articles, many of which are widely cited by both European and American scholars.
Professor Stafford’s research has focused on popular religion, peasant economics, child development, and learning and cognition. His first major fieldwork was conducted in the late 1980s in the Taiwanese fishing village of Angang where he examined, among other things, the relationship between nationalist schooling and Chinese popular religion. In the 1990s he began to conduct fieldwork in mainland China, examining questions related to kinship, religion, and Chinese historical consciousness. During this research, he became especially interested in rituals of "separation" and "reunion," which help to structure the flow of social life in rural communities. More recently, Professor Stafford has completed a major new research project, funded by the ESRC, entitled "Numeracy and Folk-Accounting: the Development of Economics-Relevant Skills in Rural China and Taiwan." This examined economic agency in the Chinese and Taiwanese countryside from the perspective of numerical cognition and the learning of economic skills.
* * *
The Richard E. Barnard Visiting Fellowship in Chinese Studies brings to UCLA distinguished scholars in Chinese studies, for a period of one to three weeks. While at UCLA, Visiting Fellows deliver one public lecture, lecture and team teach in relevant classes and seminars, and consult with faculty and students. These distinguished visitors to UCLA make an inestimable contribution to the training of our students by bringing new perspectives and insights through their lectures, teaching seminars, and consultations.
Professor Stafford will be on campus for two weeks, beginning April 11. He may be reached by calling the Center for Chinese Studies, 310 825-8683
For more information please contact
Tel: 310 825-8683