Book Chat | Self as Method
Thinking Through China and the World
In this Book Chat (recorded on 7 October 2021), Xiang Biao and David Ownby discussed "Self as Method: Thinking Through China and the World" by Biao and Wu Qi. Taking Biao’s intellectual biography as an entry point, they reflected on the meanings of the individual self, the disappearance of the nearby in daily life, the shifting global order, China's past and futures, and other topics.
Despite China’s rise to the status of global power, many Chinese youths are anxious about their personal future, in large measure because the rapid changes have left them feeling adrift. This book, available in open access, provides a manifesto of intellectual activism that counsels China’s young people to think by themselves and for themselves. Consisting of three conversations between Xiang Biao, a social anthropologist, and Wu Qi, a rising journalist, the book probes how China has reached its current stage and how young people can make changes. The conversations touch on issues of mobility, education, family, relations between the self and the authority, centers and margins, China, and the world. The Chinese version was named the “most impactful book of 2021” by Douban, China’s premier website for rating books, films, and music. The English version, translated by David Ownby, is freely available at Springer Link, and has had 167,000 downloads by February 2023.