International Language Education Events & Activities

Research Seminar
What can a diasporic economy tell us? The stories of Indian textile traders in southeast China (Tuesday 31 Mar 2020)

Abstract: Diasporic traders in lower-end sectors, particularly those from the global South, are becoming ‘out of place’ in Asia. They are earning less profits as many Asian countries strive to upgrade their economies and phase out low-end production niches. One of these groups is Indian textile traders in southeast China. Based on my ongoing anthropological fieldwork that started in 2009, this talk traces the entrepreneurial engagement of Indian textile traders in and beyond China. I summarize the vicissitudes of their engagement as taking place in two stages. First, throughout the 2000s and early 2010s, the traders rapidly expanded their transnational business through hypermobility between different parts of China, the Middle East, and other parts of Asia while intentionally skipping over their home country of India. This growth was largely driven by a China-centric mentality of “getting rich no matter the cost,” which was one of their various tactics in global trade and migration. The second stage started around 2015, when the decline in low-cost production in China coincided with the global decrease in demand. Despite facing steady a decline in business, the traders cannot see alternatives to China as their supply center because China’s production capacity is hard to replicate. The traders thus hang on to their business in China as long as they can without a sense of the future. As the talk will explore, the current stagnancy of this diasporic economy may indicate an end to the tide-like developmental pattern of “racing to the bottom” that spreads from more advanced countries to less developed countries in Asia, which characterized the economic rise of Asia, especially of China, in the 20th and early 21st centuries. Biography: Ka-Kin Cheuk (DPhil, Oxford) is an Annette and Hugh Gragg Postdoctoral Fellow in Transnational Asian Studies at Rice University. Ka-Kin is an anthropologist whose work revolves around the study of globalization, migration, transnationalism, and inter-Asian connections, with ethnographic focuses on China, Hong Kong, and India. He previously held teaching and research positions at Universiteit Leiden and NYU Shanghai. His articles have been published in journals such as The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology. Ka-Kin is an editorial board member of Transitions: Journal of Transient Migration, for which he edited a special issue entitled “Transient Migrants at the Crossroads of China’s Global Future” (2019). He has conducted fieldwork over the past decade on the Sikh diaspora in Hong Kong and on Indian textile traders in southeast China. While writing up his research on Indian migration, Ka-Kin is currently developing a new project on flower industries and Europe-China circuits of environmental ethics.

Speaker(s)
Dr. Ka-kin CHEUK
Annette and Hugh Gragg Postdoctoral Fellow, Transnational Asian Studies, Rice University
Date
March 31, 2020 (Tuesday)
Time
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Venue
The research seminar will be conducted via ZOOM (Room 3365 is reserved for those who want to come, but everyone can just join the research seminar via ZOOM from your own computer.)
Language
English

Research Seminar
Classical Tales in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Wang Tao’s Illustrated Songyin Serial and New Visual Culture in Late-Qing Shanghai (Wednesday 25 Mar 2020)

Abstract: LanguageFrom 1884 to 1888, the late-Qing translator, writer, and world traveler Wang Tao 王韜 (1828-1897) serialized nearly 200 tales in the lithographically-printed Dianshizhai Pictorial 點石齋畫報, grouping them into the two collections Songyin manlu 淞隱漫錄 and Songyin xulu 淞隱續錄. Many scholars have regarded the Songyin serial as the “swan song” of the Chinese classical tale genre, maintaining that Wang’s innovative response to the advent of modernity is at cross-purposes with his choice of a moribund narrative form populated by ghosts and fox spirits. In my talk, I will discuss how this line of thinking symptomizes the negative consequences of the still-prevalent disregard among scholars for the medium and context of the tales’ original publication. Re-reading Wang’s tales alongside their accompanying illustrations, I will explore how the Songyin serial - written specifically for the Dianshizhai Pictorial - taps directly into its reader’s frequent encounter with the countless lithographic images of science novelty, foreign lands, and idealized women that proliferated in the most influential late-Qing illustrated magazine. My discussion will focus especially on the way Wang’s literary imagination of “the realm of illusion” - a recurring topos in his tales - crystallizes changing perceptions of the world in fin-de-siècle Shanghai. Through this talk, I aim to show that Wang’s serial, far from the last iteration of a genre in extremis, is actually one of the earliest Chinese literary works to embrace the age of mechanical reproduction and its new visual culture. Biography: Wang Shengyu is a comparatist and literary scholar specializing in pre-modern Chinese literature, with a focus on the Chinese classical tale genre. He obtained his Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Chicago and currently teaches in the School of Chinese Language and Literature at Soochow University. His research interests include the fantastic and supernatural, crime, late-imperial Chinese visual and material culture, media studies, and chinoiserie. Currently, while working on a book manuscript about literatus Wang Tao’s contribution to the development of 19th century Chinese literature, he is researching late-imperial anomaly writings on animated objects and re-animated bodies.

Speaker(s)
Dr. Shengyu WANG
Lecturer, Department of Chinese & Comparative Literature, Soochow University
Date
March 25, 2020 (Wednesday)
Time
10:00 am - 11:30 am
Venue
The research seminar will be conducted via ZOOM (Room 3365 is reserved for those who want to come, but everyone can just join the research seminar via ZOOM from your own computer.)
Language
English
Remarks
Metting ID: 860 508 537

Research Seminar
Tone variation and change of Dongguan Cantonese (Monday 23 Mar 2020)

Abstract: Dongguan Cantonese, a subdialect of Yue spoken at Dongguan locality of Guangdong, China, is a confluence of massive rural-to-urban immigration spurred by China’s economic reform. Dongguan Cantonese has eight lexical tones, in line with Middle Chinese tone categories, but the system is evolving as a consequence of the new linguistic ecology of China in recent years. This study conducted a multidimensional investigation of this ongoing change through production and perception experiments of tones on 32 young speakers (mean age = 22.7 yrs) balanced for gender, and a word reading task of Yin Ping syllables on 16 speakers balanced for gender and age (half speakers’ mean age = 20.8 yrs, and half speakers’ mean age = 50.6 yrs). Results show that Yin Ping, Yin Shang and Yang Shang in Dongguan Cantonese are in the progress of merging, while at the same time, Ying Ping is developing from a low-rise tone to a high-flat tone, presumably due to tone value transfer from prestige dialects such as Standard Cantonese and Putonghua. Thus it is anticipated that Dongguan Cantonese is gradually developing into a new linguistic variety under the new and dynamic language ecology of modern China. Biography: Dr LIANG earned the B.A and MPhil. degrees in Chinese Linguistics from the Peking University, followed by a Ph.D. degree in Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong, where she investigated the information structure and discourse function of dislocation in Cantonese. After graduated, Dr Liang extended her research interest from functional linguistics to Chinese dialects and phonology, language contact and development, and the study of Chinese language learning for both native and non-native learners. Dr Liang has been the research fellow at City University of Hong Kong, Assistant Professor and Associate Professor at the Shenzhen University. At present she is the Assistant Professor in the Department of Chinese Language Studies at the Education University of Hong Kong.

Speaker(s)
Dr. Yuan LIANG
Assistant Professor, Department of Chinese Language Studies, The Hong Kong Education University
Date
March 23, 2020 (Monday)
Time
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Venue
The research seminar will be conducted via Zoom (Room 3356 is reserved for those who want to come, but everyone can just join the research seminar via ZOOM from your own computer.)
Language
English
Remarks
Meeting ID: 458 505 575