Guest lectures at CUC and CASS

Beijing, 11 and 18 April, The Communication University China (CUC) and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) invited me for a guest lecture, I will give one on fandom, and one on creativity:

CUC – Tuesday April 11

I Don’t Want To Follow You – Exploring Music Fandom

In my talk I want to juxtapose my passion for Chinese popular music with that of my mother for a Dutch band you may not know: Rowen Hèze. I will reflect, first, upon my own trajectory across the broad field of Chinese popular music, how a passion for rock and dislike in pop gradually morphed into a deep appreciation for both. I will trace my journey from He Yong to RETROS, and from the New Pants to Tatming Pair. Does that make me a fan of Chinese pop and rock? I hesitate to say so. In the second part of my talk I will reflect on where this hesitation comes from, by exploring the field of fandom studies. Would musicophilia, a term coined by Oliver Sacks, be a better replacement?  Finally, I like to end with my mother, and her liking of a local Dutch band. While she has lost her memory due to Alzheimer, she could  still recognize the music. What does this tell us about fandom? And what about music? And why did I never ask further about her liking for this particular band?

CASS – Tuesday April 18

Making, Faking or Creating? Rethinking the Creativity Discourse in China

With its emergence as a global power, China aspires to move from a “made in China” towards a “created in China” country (Keane 2011). Creativity and culture have become a crucial source for innovation and financial growth, but are also mobilised to promote a new and open China to both the citizenry as well as the outside world. They are part of what is termed China’s “soft power” (Nye 2004). The overcoded language of creativity, innovation and sustainability are part of a governmental logic in which not only the Chinese state but also the global cultural industries are complicit. But what does it mean to be creative? And is being creative different in China than elsewhere? While quite a large body of work analyses creativity as a governmental tool, producing a new class called the precariat, consisting of subjectivities that are used as a flexibile labor force that is deeply implicated in neoliberalism, the question of what we consider to be creative is by and large ignored. In my talk, drawing from examples from calligraphy, cinema, art, television and shanzhai culture, I aim to sidetrack current debates on creativity as a governmental tool, and instead zoom in on this rather empirical question: what does it mean to be creative in China in 2017? I hope to show that in particular in the art of copying, an art that resonates uncomfortably with global stereotypes about China, one can glimpse traces of creativity that are all too often discredited and ignored.