What Does an Anthropology of Soft Power Add to the Debates over Confucius Institutes? Lecture by Jennifer Hubbert
Wednesday, January 29, 2020 - 6:00pm

What Does an Anthropology of Soft Power Add to the Debates over Confucius Institutes? - A Lecture by Dr. Jennifer Hubbert  

Date: January 29, 2020

Time: 6:00 pm

Location: PSU's SMSU 327 (1825 SW Broadway, Portland) 

The centerpiece of China’s soft power policy, Confucius Institutes and Classrooms now inhabit over 1,500 educational institutions around the world.  These government-funded Chinese language and culture programs have been lauded by the Chinese state for their ability to build up national strength through using culture to improve the nation’s image abroad. Ironically, China’s nationalist policy goals also complement and reinforce the current neoliberalization of education in the United States, where educational institutions are seeking private funding and entrepreneurial learning experiences to compensate for decreased federal support. Yet, while China’s soft power policy colludes with the neoliberalization of the learning process, it also collides with an educational system founded upon critical thought and freedom of expression, for China makes clear to its teachers that classroom discussions are to be limited to matters of grammar, pronunciation and benign cultural affairs. As a form of state diplomatic policy, how are we to understand these processes of collision and collusion in the simultaneous exercise of diplomatic policy and pedagogy in the CI classroom? 

Jennifer Hubbert is chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Associate Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Her research has focused on collective memory, mega-events, and cultural projects, most recently through a focus on diplomacy and policy. Her most recent book, China in the World: An Anthropology of Confucius Institutes, Soft Power, and Globalization is published by University of Hawai’i. She currently holds a public diplomacy fellowship with University of Southern California for research on city-to-city diplomacy.