CHCI-GLOBAL HUMANITIES INSTITUTE 2020-2021
Migration, Logistics and Unequal Citizens in Contemporary Global Context
Webinar Series _Session II
“Pandemic, Border Politics, and Xenophobia”
28 OCTOBER 2020
3:00 PM Taipei Time (GMT+8)
00:00 AM (PDT)/02:00 AM (EDT)/08:00 AM (CET/ SAST)*
Venue: Zoom Webinar
An in-person meeting at R106, HB building 2, NCTU
Registration: https://forms.gle/BFyuJW2RWQiH768LA (BEFORE 21ST OCT)
*Please double-check your time zone or write to us if needed.
Continuing with the CHCI-GHI 2020-2021 Webinar Series on the issue of “MIGRATION, LOGISTICS AND UNEQUAL CITIZENS IN CONTEMPORARY GLOBAL CONTEXT” during times of the COVID-19, the topic of October’s webinar is “Pandemic, Border Politics, Xenophobia.” The speakers for this panel are Alain Brossat, Yuan-Horng Chu, Rafal Smoczynski, and Juan Alberto Ruiz Casado. Each of them will offer us their critical point of view on current issues such as the drastic turn in biopolitics during the pandemic, the situation of the uncertainty of the internal migrant workers within China after the crisis caused by COVID-19, the “moral panic” of migrants in the UK in the post-Brexit age, or the effects of Sinophobia and the anti-China narrative on Taiwan and the Taiwanese identity construction.
This webinar aims to open a forum where all GHI participants, speakers, and researchers from partner institutions can exchange their experiences, points of view and research results with a critical perspective on aspects of border politics, identity, and inequalities from a global and current perspective. This webinar will be open to the public both online as well as in person at room 106A in HB building 2, NCTU, increasing the opportunities for discussion and exchange.
About the Speakers
Prof. Allain Brossat: Alain Brossat is an Emeritus Professor at the department of philosophy of Paris 8 University as well as a Professor at National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. He is also co-sponsor of the International Summer Universities network that has set on foot seven Summer Universities from 2005 on – the ICCS being one of the main supporters of this network. His research focuses on eurocentrism, hegemony, the construction of narratives, decoloniality, the crisis of the West. He is the author of over 20 books. See: http://www.srcs.nctu.edu.tw/srcs_en/teachers_cv_12_e.htm
Prof. Yuan-Horng Chu: Yuan-Horng Chu is a professor and the former direct (2004-2008) of the Graduate Institute for Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. He obtained his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990. He served as former president of the Cultural Studies Association in Taiwan, 2003-2004. In 2005 he founded an international Chinese journal, Router: a Journal of Cultural Studies and remains the editor in chief. His research areas include History of Social Thoughts, Social Theory, and Urban Ethnography. His publications include In Different World We Live: Sociological Notes on Framing, and Thomas Kuhn: a Critical Reader (co-edited with D. Fu). See: http://www.srcs.nctu.edu.tw/srcs_en/teachers_cv_02_e.htm
Prof. Rafal Smoczynski: Rafal Smoczynski is an Associate Professor at the Polish Academy of Sciences. His research focus is on social control, migration, sociology of religion, social theory, and sociology of markets.
Juan Alberto Ruiz Casado: Juan Casado is a PhD Candidate at the Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University. His research interests include populism, nationalism, discourse theory, independence movements, and social media and politics.
Juan Alberto Ruiz Casado (PhD Candidate) and Katarzyna Szpargała (PhD Student)
Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University.
About the Topics
The « late age » of biopolitics
In many countries of the global North, notably in Western Europe and in the US, ordinary people have been taught a harsh lesson by the COVID 19 pandemic: they have suffered from a drastic turn in the horizon of biopolitics, they have learned at their own expense that the basic and original « gesture » biopolitics is supposed to rely on (taking care of a population) now has a sinister doppelgänger – selection, sorting.
In the heat of the contagion (February, March, April, May 2020), the persons infected or showing the symptoms of COVID 19 have been very commonly divided by those who were supposed to take care of them into two categories – those who would benefit of proper treatment, including tests, intensive care at the hospital, and those who would be asked to stay at home, take Aspirin and call their doctor in case their condition worsens. This approach, consisting in dividing a given human common entity into those who have to be taken care of (made live) and those who have to be abandoned (let die, for many of them) is borrowed from war medicine. Its implementation in time of peace in countries like Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, etc. is a disastrous novum whose human cost was exorbitant – more than 100 000 human losses, as a whole, in these four countries.
The appearance in such a context of such a brutal divide between those whose life has to be protected and those whose survival actually « doesn’t matter » is a very brutal mutation in the history of the welfare state, in Western Europe and other regions of the world. Foucault’s fifth chapter of The Will to Knowledge will be our guide for our investigation of this turn.
COVID-19 and the Uncertain Situation of Mingong（民工）in Mainland China
This presentation will briefly review the term “Proletariat,” its etymology in Latin and its meaning in Roman history. It will also review the Black Death in Europe (1347-1353) and, as its consequences, the decline of European feudalism and the rise of Capitalism, as well as the Western Marxist interpretations on the transition from peasant-serfdom to the proletarianization of labor in Europe. It then turns to the phenomenal Mingong in Mainland China since 1978, arguably the world largest process of proletarianization (nearly three hundred millions in 2007). It will discuss related issues, including Mingong and the Hukou（戶口）system of household registration in Mainland China, Chunyun（春運）a period of migration in China with extremely high traffic load around the time of the Chinese Lunar New Year, the problems of Left-behind children（留守兒童）, the local organizing of labor market and the possible evolvement of criminal gangs, Mingong exploited and abused by the collaboration of political cronies（權貴）, factory owners（業主）, local security force（城管/公安）, and gangsters（黑幫）, and the 2017 November incident of the 40-day cleansing action that thrown out tens of thousands Beijing’s “low-end population”（清理北京「低端人口」） in freezing Winter. From the above-described background, the presentation will finally come to the 2020 situations under the COVID-19 that Mingong confronts, the massive close-down of factories and disappearance of jobs. It’s a drastic situation of uncertainty not only to the massively unemployed Mingong whose family relies on their wages but also to the grave recession of national economy from which no one can assure whether the regime that enjoyed 40 years of non-stop high-speed growth could survive THIS crisis.
A ‘good’ panic and moral regulation: migrant workers in the UK after the 2016 EU membership referendum
The 2016 EU membership referendum has introduced a period of uncertainty for the indigenous population and for non-British citizens in the UK. Following the recent revisions in the sociology of moral panics this paper provides an analysis of interviews with migrant workers revealing two main discursive framing logics. The first type of articulations refers to a self-reported anti- migrant moral panic discourses that – according to respondents –was exploited by British anti-migrant campaigners. The second type of articulations illustrates the ‘good’ panic logic, namely, a panicking discourse appearing among respondents about the vulnerability of their community in post-Referendum Britain. This paper problematizes the ‘good’ panic logic by eliciting competitive narratives found in the interview data. The latter did not aim merely at stimulating caring attitudes but referred also to moral regulation techniques in order to manage Brexit-oriented risks and avoid the trap of becoming a vulnerable migrant.
The “Chinese Virus”: Sinophobia during Covid-19 and its repercussions on Taiwan and Taiwanese identity
Juan Alberto Ruiz Casado
An unpleasant personal experience during the Covid-19 pandemic in India, where my Taiwanese companion was repeatedly mistaken and discriminated as Chinese, made me reflect on how the stigmatisation towards China and the Chinese ethnic community could indirectly affect Taiwan and its citizens. During the coronavirus crisis there have been numerous cases worldwide of racism against citizens of Chinese ethnicity and even others with “similar” ethnic traits (Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese). The global contempt for the Chinese, with its origins rooted in a well established cultural supremacism depicting Chinese as inferiors, was those days amplified by a fear of China’s hegemonic challenge of the Western neoliberal order, a generalised bias of the media concerning “the Chinese virus”, and by the attacks of some Western governments blaming the Chinese “other” for the pandemic instead of accepting responsibility for their ineptitude facing it. But Taiwan can also be unexpectedly affected by this increasing construction of China and the Chinese as the global enemy. If the current anti-China narrative were to continue its escalation, Taiwan could be caught in a tight spot: not only because its citizens share the same ethnic profile with Chinese nationals, but also because of the word “China” in the official name of the island and the lack of knowledge of the majority of the world’s citizens about the specific context of Taiwan. These tensions might accelerate both the identity construction of the Taiwanese as a separate subjectivity vis-à-vis an evil China and the support for independence as a radically different sovereign entity, pushing parties into a race for independence initiatives to win popular support. The recent decision to shrink the words “Republic of China” from the cover of the national passport (admittedly a consequence of Taiwanese being confused as Chinese during the pandemic), is a clear sign of the tendency of the changes ahead. Equally serious is the adoption by certain interest groups in Taiwan of a dehumanizing and discriminatory discourse against both the Chinese and the Taiwanese “traitors” who support compromise or de-escalation, risking a dangerous polarisation within society. Taiwan (and the Taiwanese identity) faces the difficult task of separating itself from the campaign of hatred towards the Chinese that indirectly undermines their own interests, while defending its own sovereignty, idiosyncrasy and its democratic and peacemaking role in Asia, avoiding either falling into the arms of China or to serve as a pawn of the American short-term anti-China strategy.