grande-imageConference in cooperation with the University of Macao



Welcoming remarks: Alain Dieckhoff, Director, CERI
Introduction: Françoise Mengin, Sciences Po-CERI,  and Jean-Louis Rocca, Sciences Po-CERI

10h00-13h00   Institutional Voids as Sites of Inquiry

Chair: Françoise Mengin
Discussant: Gilles Favarel-Garrigues, CNRS/CERI-Sciences Po

Talking to Each Other, Despite Everything
Isabelle Thireau, CNRS-EHESS
Overcoming Institutional Voids during Market Transition: Private Sector Financing in China
Tak-Wing Ngo, University of Macao

11h00-11h30   Coffee break

11h30-12h30   Debate

14h00-16h00   Making Chinese Subjects on the International StageChair: Tak-Wing Ngo

Discussant: Richard Banégas, Sciences Po-CERI

How my Life Changed in Africa: Narratives of Chinese Expatriate Workers
Antoine Kernen, Université de Lausanne
On the Road: Turning Taiwanese Citizens into Chinese Subjects?
Françoise Mengin, Sciences Po-CERI

15h00-16h00   Debate

16h00-16h30   Coffee break

16h30-18h00  Subjectivation, Activism, and their Reshaping in Contemporary China: a Tentative Historical Overview
Keynote speech by Yves Chevrier, EHESS


9h30-12h30   Making Peasants Something Else

 Chair: Isabelle Thireau
Discussant: Kathy Rousselet, Sciences Po-CERI


Turning Farmers into Citizens

David Bray, University of Sydney
The Making and Limitations of Chinese Compassionate Government: A Case Study of Rural Migrants’ Children
Camille Salgues, EHESS
An Exemplary Movement: What Wukan “Farmers” Protest Tells about Chinese Politics
Jean-Louis Rocca, Sciences Po-CERI

11h00-11h30  Coffee break

11h30-12h30  Debate

14h00-16h00   Subjects and Public Policies: the Urban Scene

Chair: Jean-Louis Rocca
Discussant: Laurent Gayer, CNRS-CERI


Regional Differences of Community Governance in Urban China

Xiao Lin, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Between Civil Servants and Local Representatives: an Ethnographic Perspective on the Subjectivation Processes of Residents’ Committee Agents in Beijing
Judith Audin, EHESS

15h00-16h00   Debate





Responsables scientifiques : Françoise Mengin, Sciences Po-CERI, et Jean-Louis Rocca, Sciences Po-CERI

CERI-56 rue Jacob, 75006 Paris / Salle de conférences

Entrée libre dans la limite des places disponibles



With a high rate of growth, the emergence of a middle class and a widespread access of the population to social networks, the issue of China democratization is omnipresent in the bulk of analysis. For some, this democratization is unavoidable since it goes in line with the sense of history. For others, China is not suited to the so-called Western model, and the Chinese must find, or have already found their own democratic formula. It is only by drawing from its philosophical roots that China will be able to devise an alternative model, but no less democratic. These approaches are in fact very similar: they impose a Manichean and essentialist model – democracy versus non-democracy – and they grasp political changes in normative and/or culturalist terms. “Democratization” is perceived as a well-established process. Certainly, one must take into account local specificities; yet, through a graphic phrase, the necessities of modernization seem to guide, step by step, the transition to democracy.
Far be it from us to consider that the issue of producing democratic subjects is not on the agenda. In China, as elsewhere, it is the democratic imaginary – being or not democratic – that is on the horizon. What we advocate for is the need to appraise the contradictions between this horizon and the characteristics of power relations in contemporary China. Our approach is merely to put forward some working hypothesis.

Firstly, we would like to stress on the paradoxical dimension of democratization. In its very broad meaning, democratization is the process of institutionalizing the individual as the basic unit of the political system (free elections, but also freedom of speech and assembly). Yet, according to Michel Foucault, subjectivation of citizens is also subjection (assujetissement). Individuals are subjects of their own life and are subjected to domination (1) . Secondly, refusing historical or cultural determinisms entails to put emphasis on the very historicity of political phenomena. Indeed, the political action is reliant on the legacy of institutions and memories, in particular personal experiences Chinese people of all walks of life have been confronted to, for two or three generations. Thirdly, and conversely, the historicity of societies compels us to take into account all contingencies. China’s development during the last thirty years has shown the part played by chance, unpredictability, as well as the “groping” nature of reforms. There is no Chinese model but a whole combination of decisions, events and phenomena.

1)Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality I: The Will to Knowledge, New York, Pantheon Books, 1978 [1976], p. 60.



lieuSalle des conférences, Bâtiment S

University of Macao

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