Stepping outside the self : criticism and change

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Department of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University; Kwan Fong Cultural Research and Development Programme, Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lingnan University

Event Title

KFCRD Cultural Studies Seminar & Cultural Magazine Series, 2005-06

Document Type

Public Seminar




5:30 p.m. -- 7:00 p.m.


GE101, 1/F, B.Y. Lam Building, Lingnan University


The invocation of platitudes as war cries in the pursuit of reform is not simply an exercise in revitalizing old truths. Rather, it often betrays the anxieties of self-preservation in the face of the force of crisis. The buzzing of educational reform in Hong Kong is a case in point. “Life-long learning” and “learning how to learn” are certainly old truths about making the effort to become a better person. However, the force of crisis that reminds us that we have forgotten about them does not necessarily mean that they are old truths about transforming oneself. Rather, they can be a sign of our fear of losing the ground the “self” once occupied, the fear that we are falling behind the times, that our selves are at stake. That is, the experience of the force of crisis in this case does not bring about a fundamental critique of the times that constitute the selves peculiar to it.

Through her involvement in the movement of people’s initiatives in rural reconstruction in China, Dr Lau Kin Chi seeks to raise a more fundamental critique demanded by the force of crisis. Rural reconstruction in the 1920s in China was a response to the crisis China was then facing. It is thus always about the making of a new people for the actualization of autonomy. Notwithstanding the celebration of the so-called success of China’s reform, China continues to be a crisis-ridden country: crisis of the society, crisis of the self, and crisis of the environment. In fact, the three areas are so intertwined in everyday life that it calls for no less a critique than a fundamental critique of our times. As a movement in the making of a new people, the rural reconstruction movement is certainly a pedagogical movement. This presentation will focus on the opening of spaces for such a pedagogical movement through a critique of modern education and development and the modern self peculiar to the times they constitute.



Additional Information


Dr Lau Kin Chi teaches Cultural Studies in Lingnan University. She has been involved in pedagogical initiatives such as Alternative Asian Regional School on Local Governance, James Yen Rural Reconstruction Institute, 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005, and Cultural and Social Studies (Translation Series).

Cultural Studies Seminar Series, 2005-06

The public seminar was part of the Cultural Studies Seminar Series, an ongoing series of informal talks, jointly organized by the Department of Cultural Studies and Kwan Fong Cultural Research and Development Programme (KFCRD), Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences, in which researchers in dialogue with leading cultural critics, designers, producers and entrepreneurs working in and around Hong Kong. Aimed at an undergraduate audience, the Seminar used a “chat show” format to encourage students to join in the discussion of new cultural research and development projects.

Recommended Citation

Lau, K. C. (2006, April 24). Stepping outside the self: Criticism and change [Video podcast]. Retrieved from http://commons.ln.edu.hk/videos/419