CCS Scholars Forum

The CCS Scholars Forum is a new series that aims to bring together scholars on campus working on disparate aspects of Chinese studies in order to facilitate greater dialogue and collaboration. Each speaker will deliver a short and accessible presentation, introducing a current research project; followed by a general discussion. Each forum will pair scholars at different stages of their careers from different fields. These forums are envisioned as a means to strengthen ties within our Chinese Studies community at UCLA. Students and faculty with an interest in China are strongly encouraged to attend.

Our inaugural forum will feature former CCS Director, Yunxiang Yan (Professor, Anthropology), Lei Qin (Assistant Adjunct Professor of Modern Chinese Literature, ALC), and Liz Carter (Graduate student in Chinese Linguistics, ALC). If you would like to volunteer for future forums, please contact: berry@humnet.ucla.edu.


Yunxiang Yan

Department of Anthropology
University of California, Los Angeles

Trajectories of Moral Transformation in Post-Mao China

Moral changes in Chinese society over the past four decades can be generalized as a three-fold transformation process. The first is the shift of ethical values from a collectivist ethics of responsibility and self-sacrifice to an individualistic ethics of rights and self-development; the second is the diversification of moral judgement and moral landscape; and the third is marked by the increasing importance of public morality. The yardstick of examining moral changes contains four important benchmarks, which are, in ascending order, bottom-line morality, individual subjectivity and dignity, empathy and social trust, and public moralities. Measured by this criterion, what has happened in China since the 1980s constitutes a deep and complex moral transformation (instead of moral crisis) which posts both challenges and opportunities for the building of a good society.

Dr. Yunxiang Yan is a Professor at the UCLA Department of Anthropology. During his undergraduate and masters’ career he was trained and worked as a literary scholar at Peking University (1978-86), with a focus on folklore and mythology. However, in 1986, he changed his field to anthropology and received a Ph.D. in social anthropology from Harvard University in 1993. After teaching anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1993-94) and Johns Hopkins University (1994-96), in 1996 he joined the UCLA Department of Anthropology. His research interests are social change and development, family and kinship, cultural globalization, morality, the individual and individualization.

Keywords: moral subjectivity, individualization, diversification, public morality, and moral transformation.


Lei Qin
Department of Asian Languages & Cultures
University of California, Los Angeles

Forging a Proletarian Solidarity
Internationalist Cultural Politics in 1930s China

I will briefly introduce my on-going monograph project, which delineates a historical alternative of a nonviolent version of revolution – i.e., intervention in politics through non-military cultural empowerment – a force that had been caught and neglected between the shadows of the two giant political parties in 1930s China. It was designed and facilitated by ComIntern’s non-professional revolutionaries of Willi Münzenberg and Soong Ching-ling with a base not in Moscow but in the cultural center of Berlin, and with luxury cast of top European and Chinese left-wing writers and intellectuals as active players. The talk will introduce the first and last chapters of the monograph: it starts with theoretical inquiry into Sun Yat-sen’s conceptualization of minzu (nation, nationality) within his life-long proposition Sanmin zhuyi (Three People’s Principle). From the first to second Nationalist Party Congress, the concept gradually came to shape as meaning an “internationalist nationalism,” and was carried on to further clarification by his widow Soong Ching-ling and the Party’s left-wing leader Deng Yanda after Sun’s death in 1925. The talk will then introduce the movement’s exemplification on the ground in China by examining works from writers who actively endorsed internationalist cultural politics – Xiao San, Qu Qiubai, Lu Xun and Mao Dun. In conclusion, the project foregrounds a “third road” in revolution through cultural politics with intellectuals, writers and artists as major players. Though possessing no power of altering the course of history under shadows of the two mighty political forces, this internationalist revolution opens a window to a possible alternative and invites further problematizing of a history written along monolithic political perspective.

Dr. Lei Qin is Assistant Adjunct Professor in Modern Chinese Studies at Asian Languages and Cultures at UCLA. She received her Ph. D in Comparative Literature from Washington University in St. Louis and was Assistant Professor in Asian Studies at the National University College Cork, Ireland. Her research interests are broadly defined as modern Chinese culture and history. At UCLA, she teaches Chinese cinema, modern and contemporary literature, culture and society of modern China etc.



Liz Carter
Department of Asian Languages & Cultures
University of California, Los Angeles

Multimodal Discourse Analysis of Televised Confessions in the People’s Republic of China: Confession and Nation

In my talk I will introduce my research on PRC news segments in which three detained individuals – Swedish bookseller Gui Minhai and PRC rights lawyers Zhang Kai and Wang Yu –issued confessions in 2016. This research explores the use of visual and grammatical framing in these televised news segments. Videos of public confessions are significant as mass-media events in which the framing and presentation of a confession may provide a window into state language ideology, audience perception, intended affective response, and identity. In particular, attention is paid to nationality, as it is discussed in similar ways across the three videos examined.
While PRC news media have broadcast over 100 extralegal confessions since 2013 (Gardner 2018), there has been very little linguistic analysis of these discourse events to date. There are studies on televised confessions in the PRC (Leung 2017, Fiskesjö 2017, Dahlin 2018, Sorace 2019), and studies on the use of multiple resources in PRC mass media environments to construct language ideology (Fang 1994, Fang 2001, Feng 2013, Feng 2016, Renwick and Cao 1999), but the methodologies of the latter have not been applied to the subject matter of the former. This study aims to bridge this gap, to learn more about this phenomenon as well as how methodologies may be adjusted and applied to learn about the intersection of linguistics and politics.

Liz Carter is a PhD candidate in East Asian Linguistics at UCLA. Prior to this, she worked as a Mandarin-English translator and journalist covering developments in PRC social media and politics. Her research interests include the intersection of linguistics and law, how censorship affects and inspires communication, and the teaching of Mandarin as a foreign language.

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