11 Aug 2003 - 12 Aug 2003 All day CRASSH


Workshop sponsored by CRASSH (University of Cambridge), a British Academy Networks Grant, and the British Council.

Since the early years of the Communist movement in China, the project of nation-building has been informed by a belief in the transformative power of education, with state-planners designating a pivotal role for pedagogy and knowledge in the production of the 'civilised' citizens and skilled workers needed for socialist construction. State institutions have played a fundamental role in producing and distributing the technical, scientific, moral and historical knowledge deemed necessary for moulding high quality citizens. This workshop explores (1) how systems of knowledge pertaining to good citizenship are created, valorised and allocated at particular historical junctures and in particular socio-political settings and (2) how people at the grassroots subvert and rework official knowledges or assert other knowledges in their practice of citizenship.

The workshop uses empirical and historical case studies to explore the knowledge production techniques of the media and the educational system. The participants investigate how these institutions construct knowledges that embody ideas about the nation, as well as the identities of people positioned as particular kinds of citizens within the nation. For example, what similarities and differences are there between the kinds of knowledge valorised by urban schools, rural schools, village and township governments, the media, urban residents' associations and social workers in China? By exploring a diverse range of pedagogical institutions throughout China, we will learn what Chinese people in various situations are expected to know in order to be civilised and modern.

The workshop also investigates how Chinese people use knowledge in their practice of citizenship. The Communist Chinese state has always claimed that all people can obtain the knowledge necessary for becoming good citizens, even if they are rural, female, poor or unqualified. However people who are rural, female, poor or unqualified are able to appropriate official knowledges and assert local knowledges in their attempts to create and legitimate their own citizenship practices, though this sometimes causes others to challenge their claims. The papers in this workshop therefore also examine conflicts and negotiations between the state and various kinds of individuals over the definition and distribution of the most valuable kinds of knowledge.

Dr Rachel Murphy, Jesus College
Dr Vanessa Fong, Harvard


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk