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Institute for Chinese Studies Lecture: Margherita Zanasi "Rethinking Economic Modernity"


Friday, November 16, 2018, 4:00PM - 5:30PM


The Institute for Chinese Studies presents "The Centenary of the May Fourth Movement" Lecture Series with Margherita Zanasi, associate professor, Department of History, Louisiana State University, titled, "Rethinking Economic Modernity: The Debate on Luxury Consumption in Qing China (1644-1911)." By focusing on Chinese officials’ and intellectuals’ debates on market and consumption, this talk challenges established narratives and chronologies of economic modernization in China. More specifically, it argues that ideas generally linked to European economic liberalism (the self-regulating power of the market and the positive effect of luxury consumption on the economy) had already found popularity in China, roughly a century earlier than in Europe. Chinese scholars and officials, however, abandoned them in response to newly emerged problems, especially an unprecedented growth in population. At this time (late 18th century), Chinese economic thinkers came to believe that the empire’s economy was characterized by scarcity and, for this reason, needed the leadership of a developmental state. This shift in economic thought marked the beginning of China’s uneasy relationship with western-style free-market economics. This early rejection of some aspects of economic liberalism did not imply an inevitable descent into autocratic economic regimes, as those adopted by the Nationalist and the Communist after the 1930s. It, however, reveals that the contemporary market economy with “Chinese characteristics” has wider roots than Communist ideology.

This event is free and open to the public.

Location : Orton Hall 110
Contact : East Asian Studies Center

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