Association for Feminist Anthropology
Retrospective - Oral Presentation Session
This paper examines the opening ceremonies of the Global Confucius Institutes (CI) Conferences, an international event of high magnitude, which physically gathers the host and guest universities under the CI program. The program began in 2004 as a non-profit educational organization with an aim of promoting the teaching of Chinese language and culture around the world. Every December, high level Chinese bureaucrats and more than 2000 participants from guest universities gather at the Global CI Conferences, which in a way, operate as an enactment of Chinese utopia of global power. Based on a five-year-long observation of these ceremonies, the paper explores their morphology, trying to comment on the meanings assigned to the concepts of the “global”, the “national” and the “modern” from both parts as guests and hosts. Including both the ceremony and a book fair attached to it, the Global CI Conferences include all elements of a festive event ranging from welcome speeches, to theatrical performances, banquets and forums for CI directors and university presidents. As well expressed by Beverly Stoeltje and Richard Bauman, these ceremonies are “public enactments in which a culture is encapsulated, enacted, placed on display for itself and for outsiders” (1988).