The Politics of Compassion: The Sichuan Earthquake and Civic Engagement in China | National Committee on U.S.-China Relations
When and Where
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
National Committee on U.S.-China Relations
6 East 43rd Street, 24th Floor
The National Committee is pleased to announce that Dr. Xu will join us on January 31, 2018, for a discussion of his book, the aftermath of the Sichuan earthquake, and the present state of Chinese civil society.
On May 12, 2008, a massive earthquake rocked central Sichuan, killing 87,000 people and leaving five million homeless in the second worst natural disaster in China’s modern history (the first was the Tangshan earthquake of 1976). As news of the event spread, hundreds of thousands of volunteers poured into Sichuan from all over China to help wherever they were needed. Many cooked, cleaned, and cared for survivors, but the sudden explosion of civic engagement also led to more politically oriented activities, as the magnitude of the tragedy forced an emotional confrontation with the deeper causes of the destruction beyond the violence of the quake itself. In a new book The Politics of Compassion: The Sichuan Earthquake and Civic Engagement in China, sociologist and China expert Bin Xu examines the ways in which civic engagement unfolded in the aftermath of the earthquake, and what we can conclude about Chinese civil society from this.
Drawing on extensive interviews and documentary research, Dr. Xu challenges many of the popular narratives about the national outpouring of compassion, and illustrates the tension between volunteering and activism.