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International Seminar Series: “Brainwashing, Policing, and the Rise of Modern China”

Wednesday, October 9th 2019
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Event Description

This talk compares two interpretations of modern policing: Chinese and American. Our presenter’s point of departure is “brainwashing,” an English word coined during the Korean War as a putative translation of the Chinese term xinao. Fueled by anti-communist moral panic, “brainwashing” discourse expressed the American fantasy of a political technology which could achieve total control by exploiting the constitutive weaknesses of the liberal subject. Revisiting these ideological fantasies in light of the history of policing in modern China illuminates the underlying normative commitments which distinguish China’s illiberal approach to policing from the liberal ideal familiar to most Americans. Our presenter uses this contrast as the basis for proposing an anthropological framework for thinking about how different histories of engagement with the project of human flourishing implicate different conceptions of the legitimate place that violence has in political life.

Dr. Jeffrey T. Martin is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. He studies policing in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the United States of America. He is the author of Sentiment, Reason & Law: Policing in The Republic of China on Taiwan, to be published this October on Cornell University Press. Before coming to Illinois, he worked at the University of Hong Kong, The Graduate Institute of Taiwan Studies at Chang Jung Christian University, and Central Police University. Dr. Martin holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago.

Series Overview: The International Seminar Series offers the Illinois State campus and Bloomington-Normal communities weekly opportunities to learn about a wide range of international topics. Guest speakers are usually experts in their fields across a range of disciplines who cover a wide array of cultural, historical, political and social topics.

Series events have become one of the most popular internationally focused events on campus and continue to draw ever-growing crowds of students, faculty and community members. Audience members are given time at each event to raise questions to enable a two-way participation and learning.

International Seminar Series events are free and open to the public and occur every Wednesday from noon to 1 p.m. in the Bone Student Center. The Fall 2019 series will focus on understanding contemporary China.

If you will need special accommodations, please contact the event organizer.


Office of International Studies and Programs
(309) 438-5276


Bone Student Center
Old Main Room