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[Xmca-l] Re: [cores-ucfaculty] Memo on Confucius Institutes at the U of C

For what is worth:

Issues with CI are not specific to Chicago





On Mar 21, 2014, at 12:29 AM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:

> How quaint that the University of Chicago, which trained torturers,
> quartermasters, and tamed intellectuals for Chiang Kaishek, for
> Pinochet and then for Menachem Begin, is now concerned about lending
> its non-existent liberal credentials to anti-liberal regimes. How
> inconventient that there are also forms of free speech and association
> which are barred from the USA but at least nominally acceptable in
> China.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_and_Nationality_Act_of_1952
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> On 21 March 2014 11:33, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>> I am passing along a note from a colleague at the University of Chicago
>> that it seems people might find useful to know about.
>> mike
>> Begin forwarded message:
>> *From:* Marshall Sahlins <msahlins@uchicago.edu>
>> *Date:* March 20, 2014 at 12:27:31 PM EDT
>> *To:* "cores-ucfaculty@lists.uchicago.edu" <
>> cores-ucfaculty@lists.uchicago.edu>
>> *Subject:* *[cores-ucfaculty] Memo on Confucius Institutes at the U of C*
>> *Reply-To:* cores-ucfaculty@lists.uchicago.edu
>> Dear Colleagues:
>> This memorandum is meant to follow Bruce Lincoln's call to action on the
>> matter of the Confucius Institute at the University of Chicago.
>> I have written two rather long papers detailing my own and colleagues'
>> concerns regarding Confucius Institutes at the U of C and many other
>> universities and colleges the world around--not to mention hundreds of
>> Confucius Classrooms in secondary and primary schools. An edited version of
>> one of these papers was published in The Nation late last year under the
>> title :China U" (http://www.thenation.com/article/176888/china-u). Another,
>> "On the Defense of Confucius Institutes: At the University of Chicago, For
>> Example," will soon appear on an internet blog. The latter piece includes a
>> summary of the compromises to the University's intellectual and moral
>> values occasioned by our participation in the global CI project--with
>> regrettable effects on our academic standing and reputation. I append that
>> summary below,as excerpted from the longer text. Note that "Hanban" here
>> refers to the the Office of the Chinese Council International, which runs
>> the Confucius Institutes world wide.
>> The kinds and number of compromises of its own intellectual and pedagogical
>> principles entailed by the participation of the University of Chicago in
>> Confucius Institutes must have regrettable effects on its academic
>> integrity as an institution, let alone its general academic standing and
>> reputation. Here in summary are several of the most evident of such
>> breaches of principle, as manifest in the statements or actions of
>> responsible University of Chicago parties:
>> --The University in 2009 committed itself to a contract with the Confucius
>> Institutes which included clauses on the teaching of Chinese language and
>> culture. By these provisions, Hanban was given the right to train, supply,
>> and pay the teachers, as well as providetextbooks and teaching materials,
>> of courses within the University's own Chinese language program. The
>> University signed the agreement in bad faith, as it never intended to give
>> Hanban control of the texts and class materials, and thereby of the course
>> curriculum. This added an element of hypocrisy to the problematic
>> provisions of the agreement with the Confucius Institutes, several of which
>> are noted in the following.
>> --The University violated its own statutes by not submitting this contract,
>> inasmuch as it included teaching provisions, for approval by the
>> representatives of the faculty in the Council of the Senate. Instead the
>> University claimed that a vote by the China scholars of the Center for East
>> Asian Studies constituted faculty approval.
>> --The University repeated this violation of faculty governance by
>> appointing a Confucius Institute in-house Committee of three professors,
>> all of whom are China specialists, to hold hearings and make
>> recommendations on the renewal of the CI contract.
>> --The University falsely claimed to be "fully engaged" in the hiring
>> process of teachers supplied by Hanban. At most it now claims a right of
>> refusal it has never exercised.
>> --The University ignored the fact that Hanban is guided by Chinese law in
>> selecting the teachers it sends, including laws that criminalize forms of
>> belief and free speech protected in the US. As a result, the University
>> becomes complicit in discriminatory hiring practices.
>> --The University ignored the fact that the teachers sent by Hanban to host
>> institutions abroad are trained to avoid or divert discussions in class of
>> subjects that are potentially politically embarrassing to the PRC .
>> --The University admitted that " a certain amount of self-censorship" is
>> involved in the activities of its Confucius Institute. It offered the
>> compensation that politically controversial topics could be sponsored by
>> other units of the University, thus sanctioning the principle that
>> censorship is permissible in any academic unit so long as it does not apply
>> somewhere else in the University.
>> --The University, affirming in official statements that its CI, like all
>> others, was "affiliated" through Hanban with the Chinese Ministry of
>> Education, thus failed to take or give notice that the Governing Council of
>> the Confucius Institutes, which sets the agenda of Hanban and receives its
>> reports, is chaired by a member of the Politburo and composed by high
>> officials of the PRC, including members of the State Council and the
>> Ministers or Vice-Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Education, National
>> Development, Culture, Commerce, and Finance.
>> --The University accordingly considered it inconsequential that research
>> projects on Chinese development proposed by Chicago faculty and students
>> are submitted through its CI to Hanban, which makes the final decisions on
>> approval and funding for approval and funding.
>> --Indeed, the University also ignored--perhaps because it was considered
>> impractical and unenforceable--that according to its own Constitution and
>> By-laws (Chapter 6, Article 36b), Hanban reserves the right to take
>> punitive legal action for any activity sponsored by a local Confucius
>> Institute without its approval.
>> These dubious aspects of Chicago's Confucius Institute notwithstanding,
>> many affiliated faculty as well as University officials are quite content
>> with it, citing the freedom in practice from the contractual restraints on
>> teaching Chinese, the quality of the Hanban teachers, the conferences on
>> family economics undertaken with our Department of Economics, and the
>> research opportunities the CI opens in China. This local satisfaction,
>> however, involves the University in compromises of its own academic
>> principles on a much greater scale. I noted this in /The Nation /article,
>> but as the editing necessarily compressed it, I spell out the point here.
>> For it needs to be considered that the interests of Hanban and particular
>> American universities are different in scale and character. As an
>> instrument of the Chinese government policy, Hanban's interests are global
>> and real-political. Its mission is to spread the influence of the Chinese
>> state worldwide, particularly in strategically consequential regions, and
>> above all the United States. Accordingly, with this larger objective in
>> mind, the Beijing Head Office is ready to make case-by-case accommodations
>> to American academic sensibilities: especially to prestigious
>> universities--/pour encourager les autres/. The apparent loss Hanban takes
>> in one local engagement may be an overall gain for the program world-wide.
>> By contrast, the American universities for their part are concerned only
>> with their own parochial welfare as academic institutions. Interested in
>> the short-term economic, teaching, or research benefits, they are inclined
>> to ignore or dismiss the unsavory political aspects of Confucius
>> Institutes, which is to say the larger implication of their own
>> participation, so long as they get a good deal. The larger implication is
>> that their participation lends support to a project that is inimical to the
>> academic integrity of other institutions even as it compromises their own.
>> When the establishment the CI at the University of Chicago was announced,
>> one distinguished professor emeritus objected in a communication to the
>> executive body (Committee of the Council) of the faculty legislature
>> (Council of the Senate):
>> "I do not doubt that, regardless of its own statutes on these matters, the
>> Confucius Institute has given broad assurances of academic integrity and
>> freedom to the University of Chicago officials and teachers. I do not doubt
>> it because the value of enlisting the prestige of the University of Chicago
>> in the cause of the international success of the CI initiative would make
>> any such concessions worthwhile, even if they were more than nominal. This,
>> then, is the ultimate concern: that we are lending our good name to a
>> political project that by its own by-laws infringes on our traditions of
>> academic freedom at the same time it transgresses on our ideals of human
>> rights, and in so doing we help spread these effects to other institutions
>> that are less able to refuse the financial inducements that accompany them."
>> In a few words: no matter how liberal or beneficial the terms of its own
>> participation, the University of Chicago, by hosting a Confucius Institute,
>> becomes engaged in a world-political struggle in a way that contradicts the
>> intellectual and moral values on which it is founded.
>> In the event, there is a direct relationship between the global development
>> of Confucius Institutes and the impairment of the University of Chicago's
>> good name. Judging from the adverse comments reported from many
>> universities in the US and a number in other countries, the damages to the
>> reputation of the University attendant on its establishment of a Confucius
>> Institute are tracking the spread of the Hanban project. In the shadow of
>> Hanban's success come expressions of disappointment, dismay, and
>> incredulity that an institution so well regarded for its intellectual
>> quality and academic probity should become involved in such a dubious
>> initiative of such an illiberal regime.
>> Marshall Sahlins
>> 20 March 2014
>> --
>> Charles F. Grey Distinguished Service Professor of Anthropology Emeritus;
>> University of Chicago.

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