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The visibility and the invisibility of authority in China: on contemporary dynamics of secrecy, power and heritage
April 1, 2019 - 13:30-17:00
A Doctoral Programme in the Social Sciences International Workshop in collaboration with Social and Cultural Anthropology.
Secrecy can create distinctions and ambivalences; it can build trust and break down relationships, protect and endanger groups and individuals; give control and create vulnerabilities; provide a means to mediate between untrusting persons or groups. In this workshop we will discuss the kind of work secrets are made to do in various political and inter-personal contexts in contemporary China. In a nation marked by constraints in the transparency of government affairs and media; the lack of trust an individual confronts everyday gets projected from social relations to protective mechanisms, such as the rule of law and state welfare. To cope, people’s circles of trust are small and extend through networks of shared trust and often secrecy. To maintain secrecy, what is said and what is meant often carry two different meanings. Our workshop expands on these discussions alongside earlier anthropological debates on the political and social implications of secrecy (within the Mediterranean region in particular). Looking at how things left unsaid maintain secrecy and trust, as two connected attributes, we ask the following: what does secrecy mean in China today?
Harriet Evans (University of Westminster)
Stephan Feuchtwang (London School of Economics)
Sam Geall (University of Sussex)
Anni Kajanus (University of Helsinki)
Hans Steinmüller (London School of Economics)