For example: “Class struggle” is codified differently within particular historical/cultural contexts. In China, or among those who left (escaped) during the Cultural Revolution, it means Mao and the Red Guards, a corrupt government, a widespread trauma. As a child, “Communism” was only ever a terrible Evil, and it was a surprise when I got to college and examined the ideas of Marxism/Socialism; I had to re-contextualize these.

Related or unrelated, “democracy” must mean something different to Hong Kong than it does to the West. Or it is undoubtedly shaped by the West, but what does it represent exactly to Hongkongers? How does it manifest?

SCMP: “Benny Tai Declares Start of Occupy Central”


[Oct 28]: Or how “democracy” and “propaganda” are codified on the Mainland: Guernica: Interview with Evan Osnos. The ability to have a voice is a moral imperative, but beginning with my Fulbright year I’ve wondered about how our Western conception of “democracy” has become its own specific categorical good, moral right, that one takes at face value rather than as a culturally nuanced ideology. 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *