2021/22 Yip So Man Wat Memorial Lecture with Professor Ban Wang

Wednesday February 9, 2022 - Thursday February 10, 2022

The 2021/22 Yip So Man Wat Memorial Lecture
with guest speaker Professor Ban Wang (Stanford University)

Lecture: Going against the World by Joining It: Modern China’s Quest of Cosmopolitanism


Image credits: Cover image for Ban Wang’s monograph China in the World (forthcoming 2022 by Duke UP), designed by Aimee Harrison, based on a painting in the series “Landscape Relativities” by Arnold Chang and Michael Cherney

Focusing on tensions and connections between national formation and international outlooks, this talk shows how ancient visions persist even as Chinese modernizers and revolutionaries adopted and revised the Western nation-state form. The concept of tianxia (all under heaven) and datong (great harmony) have been updated into outlooks of global harmony that value unity, equality, and reciprocity as the key to overcoming interstate conflict, national divides, and social fragmentation. The talk will delve into two ongoing debates: on the embrace of the West vs. aspirations for a common world, and on the difference between liberal cosmopolitanism and socialist internationalism.

Date & Time:
Thursday, February 10, 2022
5:00pm PST Reception with light refreshments
6:00pm-8:00pm PST Lecture

Asian Centre Auditorium, 1871 West Mall, Vancouver

Presented in English.
Free & open to the public. Registration is required via the form found below.

Events in Conjunction

Research Seminar: Lu Xun’s Critique of Techno-Scientific Modernity


In this seminar, we will read Lu Xun’s essay “Toward a Refutation of Malevolent Voices” (Po esheng lun 破惡聲論) and stories “Mending Heaven” (Butian 補天), and “Curbing the Flood” (Lishui 理水). We will also read Ban Wang’s “Lu Xun as a Mytho-Ecological Writer” inspired by Lu Xun. We will discuss how Lu Xun mounts a critique of the myth of progress, science, and technology. By evoking ancient cosmology and ecological resonance of humans with nature, Lu Xun lampoons the hypocrisy of the hypocrite gentry. This privileged and power elite includes China’s reformers and westernizers at the turn of the 20th century. In Lu Xun’s stories, the knowledge elite in modern China rub shoulders with bureaucrats of the imperial dynasties. By indulging cynically in empty talk and performing vacuous rituals, by wielding the rhetoric of utilitarian rationality, this elite valorizes the fetish of technoscientific modernity by trashing “superstition.” Lu Xun’s defence of “superstition” re-invokes a millennial faith in the ecological interconnection of humans and nature, and expresses the intimate connection between faith, voice, and poetic imagination.

Date & Time:
Wednesday, February 9, 2022
4:00pm – 5:45pm PST

Asian Centre Auditorium, 1871 West Mall, Vancouver

Presented in English.
Free & open to the public. Registration is required via the form found below. 

Attendees will be expected to read Lu Xun’s writings and Ban Wang’s essay before coming to the seminar. The readings are included in the registration confirmation email.

Dr. Wai-yee Li

Dr. Ban Wang of Stanford University. 

About the Speaker

Ban Wang is the William Haas Professor in Chinese Studies in East Asian Languages and Cultures and Comparative Literature at Stanford University. His major publications include The Sublime Figure of History (1997), Illuminations from the Past (2004), History and Memory (Lish yu jiyi) (2004), and China in the World: Culture, Politics, and World Vision (forthcoming March 2022). He has edited and co-edited 8 book on the fields of Chinse studies, including Chinese Visions of World OrderTianxia, Culture, and Word Politics (2017), Words and Their Stories (2011)­ and Trauma and Cinema (2004). He has taught at SUNY-Stony Brook, Harvard, Rutgers, East China Normal University, the University of Zurich, Yonsei university, and Seoul National University.

About the Yip So Man Wat Memorial Lecture

The Yip So Man Wat Memorial Lectures are made possible by the generous support of Messrs. Alex and Chi Shum Watt in honour of their mother, the late Mrs. Wat, and her passion for Chinese literature and culture. Please visit the full lecture list here.