“Filial Obsessions: Chinese Patriliny and Its Discontents”
Steven Sangren, Hu Shih Professor Emeritus, Cornell University
Moderated by Nick Bartlett, Assistant Professor of Contemporary Chinese Culture and Society, Barnard College
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
International Affairs Building, Room 918
No registration required.
In his recent book, Filial Obsessions: Chinese Patriliny and Its Discontents, Steven Sangren employs a broad analysis of Chinese patriliny to propose a distinctive theoretical conceptualization of the role of desire in culture. The book utilizes a unique synthesis of Marxian and psychoanalytic insights in arguing that Chinese patriliny is best understood as, simultaneously, “a mode of production of desire” and as “instituted fantasy.” The argument advances through discussions and analyses of kinship, family, gender, filial piety, ritual, and (especially) mythic narratives. In each of these domains, Sangren addresses the complex sentiments and ambivalences associated with filial relations. Unlike most earlier studies which approach Chinese patriliny and filial piety as irreducible markers of cultural difference, Sangren argues that Chinese patriliny is better approached as a topic of critical inquiry in its own right.