Louisa Schein

Grant Type

Conference Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Rutgers U.

Grant number

Gr. CONF-769

Approve Date

August 22, 2017

Project Title

Schein, Dr. Louisa, Rutgers U., New Brunswick, NJ - To aid workshop on 'The Social Lives of Keywords: Lenses on China,' 2018, Hong Kong, in collaboration with Dr. Yinong Zhang

Preliminary abstract: This workshop, ‘The Social Lives of Keywords: Lenses on China,’ breaks ground in developing an anthropological methodology to map the migration of key concepts between Chinese and English. While Keywords investigations have burgeoned globally, what we call the ‘Chinese-English Keywords Project’ elaborates an approach for parsing multivalence and incommensurability as key concepts come to life not only between two languages but also across discrepant social contexts. Pushing beyond a documentation of diversity in usages, the goal is an experimental approach integrating the advantages of ethnography so as to capture dynamics such as institutional struggle, anticolonial indigenization, mediated popularization, folk appropriation, etc. The proposed workshop, which will assemble a group of anthropologists from both Chinese and Western universities with interlocutors from geography, sociology, and politics, will investigate the conceptual domain of ethnicity/nationality/culture toward a themed inaugural publication, after which the work will launch a second volume on gender/sexuality. Through evidencing and debating how theoretical keywords mean in their translingual travels, we will implement a process for collaboratively building keyword entries that relies on curation and ethnographic collection rather than solo authority. In the process, language politics will be innovatively linked to geopolitics as we reckon with China’s changing global position.