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When deliberative democracy travels to China: An example of cultural exceptionalism

Li-chia Lo, University of Melbourne

Tue 7 February 2017

11:00am - 12:00pm

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


As Edward Said elaborates in his Travelling Theory, theory is like human beings who travel from its birthplace to other foreign places. This is where the meaning of theory begins to transform, and Said’s work points to a new direction of investigating the transcultural transformation of knowledge when theory is disseminated in our globalised world.

By following this line of thinking, the development of deliberative democracy in China offers an excellent example to review how the actual contexts transform the meaning and implication of deliberative democracy. Engaging with the issue of translation and its related contexts, the development of deliberative democracy in China is deeply connected with its culture, institution, and socio-political traditions. Also, the background of introducing deliberative democracy to China is also tightly bridged with the studies of democratization.

The double movements between the local contexts and the universal trend of democratization form the basic theme of deliberative democracy in China. Deliberative democracy in China is therefore, struggled between universalism and exceptionalism. By making use of Giorgio Agamben’s concepts of example and exception, I will go into details about why and how the development of deliberative democracy in China is heading toward a cultural exceptionalism rather than embracing the universalism prescribed in the normative goal of deliberative democracy.

About the speaker

Li-chia Lo is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. His doctoral thesis is about deliberative democracy and participatory budgeting in China. He is particularly interested in formations of related knowledge and local experiments in Chinese cities.

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