With China’s emergence as the global leader in artificial intelligence, observers around the world have become obsessed with China’s high-tech trajectory and what it means for that country and the world. These developments present pressing questions for our field. In this talk I fit current developments into a longer history, arguing that modern science and technology have become essential means of governing in post-Mao China. While tracing the evolution of scientific and technological governance over several phases, I argue that the party-state’s current promotion of projects such as Internet+ amounts to a new form of techno-scientific governance that contingently builds upon prior modes of scientific governance. Drawing on that longer history, I tease out enduring features of the sci-tech management of China’s society and Chinese selves – specific assemblages of social forces, logics, techniques, and so on – suggesting how these are likely to shape the nation’s techno-futures and why it matters for China and the world.
Susan Greenhalgh is an author, anthropologist, and specialist on contemporary China. Her interests lie in the social and political study of science, technology, and medicine, with a special focus on women’s health. She is the John King and Wilma Cannon Fairbank Research Professor of Chinese Society in the Anthropology Department at Harvard University. Greenhalgh’s work has been recognized by several life-time career achievement awards. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship, Harvard’s Walter Channing Cabot Fellowship, the Clifford C. Clogg Award for Early Career Achievement of the Population Association of America, and the Olivia Schieffelin Nordberg Award for Excellence in Writing and Editing in the Population Sciences. Her book on the origins of China’s one-child policy, Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng’s China, took the top book prizes in China studies and science studies and earned honorable mention in two major book competitions in anthropology.
This lecture is the opening address in a two-day conference that is open to the public. For details, please visit the event page: talks.ox.ac.uk/talks/series/id/e0e7395c-496a-4e04-a68f-17b8cae9757b