The MIT Visualizing Cultures controversy is linked to a series of anti-Japanese street protests in China during the previous year. As a comparative analysis of these two very different types of protests, this article produces a reading of protest through a series of linked contexts of reception, or interconnected interpretive communities. To elaborate this idea, this article focuses on one of these events, the anti-Japanese protest of April 2005, and in conclusion, compares the reception of this event to the reactions to Visualizing Cultures website. Both events followed a familiar twentieth-century pattern of Chinese youth reacting against perceived insults to China in the realm of international affairs, accusing the Chinese state of weakness in the face of foreign insults. Like the MIT webpage controversy, however, the Shanghai protest unfolded in the borderless context of global media coverage, and also in the particular local and transnational contexts of Shanghai, a rising global city with a large resident foreign population, including the largest Japanese population in any city in the world outside Japan. The interpretations of the protest thus developed across a series of interlinked contexts of reception in Shanghai, in Japan, and further afield. In particular, the article discusses reactions in the Japanese community in Shanghai, and subsequent reactions of Japanese public intellectuals writing about the protest from Japan. Finally, as the events of protest become embedded in opposing nationalist narratives, the article asks how they can be brought back into the classroom, and how the social space of the classroom can serve as an alternative interpretive community for the exploration of both historical memory and the meanings of protest.
The Multiple Contexts of Protest: Reflections on the Reception of the MIT Visualizing Cultures Project and the Anti-Right Japanese Demonstration in Shanghai
James Farrer; The Multiple Contexts of Protest: Reflections on the Reception of the MIT Visualizing Cultures Project and the Anti-Right Japanese Demonstration in Shanghai. positions 1 February 2015; 23 (1): 59–90. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-2870486
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