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Social Activism in East Asia: Civil Society in China and Taiwan

On February 8 at 18:15, seminar series Inimkond: Current Issues in Anthropology and Beyond starts new semester with Taru Salmenkari, Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at Tallinn University, presenting her brand new book with a public lecture entitled

Social Activism in East Asia: Civil Society in China and Taiwan

The event takes place at Tallinn University (Narva mnt 29 3rd floor) in room A-325.

In recent decades, civil society as a platform for civic activism is presented as an answer for democratization, development, good governance, social service production, and social justice. In China, research commonly sees the development of civil society as a key for democratization, while in Taiwan it is mostly counted among the explanations for recent democratization. Modernization theory thus dominates the theoretical field.

Taru Salmenkari recently published a book, Civil society in China and Taiwan: Agency, class, and boundaries, that takes an issue of the civil society approach based on modernization theory. The book builds on anthropological work with nongovernmental organizations, community movements and dissident spaces. It covers NGOs in environmental, feminist, disability and other movements, but also underground art circles and community-based anti-eviction movements. The book investigates the social production of civil society space and its boundaries. It establishes with anthropological evidence that field evidence about the interrelations between various factors that modernization theory links together are random and thus non-causal. It also investigates contradictory expectations of this theory, such as the expectations that NGOs should have no connections with the state but should still be politically effective or that the middle class should have cravings for social justice against the political system that promoted this class.

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