GS Colloquium Series: The Significance of a "Ritual Economy" in the Context of Chinese State Capitalism and Globalization

Event Date: 

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Event Location: 

  • SSMS 2001
The Global Studies Colloquium Series in conjunction with the Orfalea Endowment for the Master's Program in Global Studies is proud to present a talk by Mayfair Yang, "The Significance of a "Ritual Economy" in the Context of Chinese State Capitalism and Globalization."
This lecture takes up calls by J.K. Gibson-Graham and others to challenge representations of capitalism as a monolithic entity, and instead, to make more visible the economic multiplicity that is all around us, but we fail to see.  Many scholars already understand that Chinese state capitalism diverges from Western liberal capitalism, and even differs from the model of “East Asian Developmental State.” Few have examined how pre-capitalist forms of economic practice are uneasily incorporated within Chinese state capitalist economy, where they continue to operate according to non-capitalist or even anti-capitalist principles, such as kinship ethics, human-divine exchange, divine and ritual debt-economies, communal interests, and rivalries of generosity, even while they are also penetrated by capitalism.  Based on fieldwork in rural and small-town Wenzhou on the coast of southeastern China, I will examine what I call a “ritual economy” of religious and kinship expenditures that harken back to earlier pre-industrial commercial economies in imperial China.  Today’s “ritual economy” traces back to the Song Dynasty, when Chinese popular religions and an indigenous market economy developed in tandem.  This past extends its dynamic force to the present era of religious resurgence and China’s entry into global capitalism. 
The event will take place next Wednesday, January 31 at 12:00 PM in SSMS 2001. After the talk, the speaker will join the audience for informal lunch and conversation. 
Dr. Mayfair Yang received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from UC Berkeley. She has been a faculty member in the Anthropology Department at UC Santa Barbara, and is now a Professor in Religious Studies Department and East Asian Studies Department there. Yang was Director of Asian Studies at the University of Sydney in Australia, and has been visiting scholar at the University of Michigan, University of Chicago, Harvard University, Academia Sinica in Taiwan, Beijing and Fudan Universities in China, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Max Planck Institute for Study of Religious Diversity in Göttingen, Germany. She is the author of Gifts, Favors, & Banquets: the Art of Social Relationships in China, and editor of Chinese Religiosities: Afflictions of Modernities & State Formation, and Places of Their Own: Women’s Public Sphere in Transnational China. Her forthcoming book: Re-enchanting Modernity: Ritual Economy & Religious Civil Society in Wenzhou, China (Duke University Press). She is also working on a second, more theoretical book on Wenzhou religiosity and politics.