Thursday, November 20, 2003

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I feel we had a very fruitful and on-target discussion tonight in CCS seminar. From where I sat, we managed to capture the key questions semi-independently of James and Albert. The first question was, to what extent do villagers use village elections to replace corrupt or incompetent leaders? The bigger question behind this one, which Shuang Chen was right on about, is whether village elections are used to effect democracy. Democracy is actualized as self-governance, in the form of self-chosen village leaders. James reminded us that China has a historical legacy of self-chosen local leaders who are utilized by the central power, so village elections are just a formalization of that process. Another key question was, to what extent are these political reforms motivated by local initiatives, or to what extent by initiatives from mid to high-level government agents. We didn't quite isolate this one, but James Lee reminded us of it at the end of the lecture.

After class ended, prof Yu Xie came and talked to us about sociology, and grad school in general. I took notes; prof Xie is very charismatic, and very intelligent. He's lucky to do what he loves. In that way, he is also very inspiring and would be a great person to study under. I envy his grad students.

On a very different train of thought... some days I wish I had the Indian look. You know, Asian Indian: dark skin, close-cropped curly black hair, a noble brow... like those guys in the Bollywood movies. That would be cool.

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