This week sets a new record for introspective profanity as we reverse our usual format, in a show that features David Moser and Mary Kay Magistad turning the tables on Jeremy Goldkorn and Kaiser Kuo with an interview that explores how both view Sinica’s relationship with the world of academic Sinology as well as China-related journalism, and question to what extent both are relevant and irrelevant in this digital age.

As long-standing guests on our show with roots in the academic and journalism fields respectively, David and Mary Kay are more than qualified to hold Kaiser and Jeremy to account. David Moser is one of the most well-regarded Sinologists in Beijing, and works as the Academic Director for the CET program in Beijing. Mary Kay Magistad is a veteran China correspondent for Public Radio International with over 20 years of experience living in and reporting on Asia.

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 said on
August 24, 2013
Quick note, the third person in that AAS panel I (KK) talked about wasn't a legal scholar, but the economist Barry Naughton. Apologies for spacing on that! -Kaiser
 said on
August 25, 2013
I think the Geremie Barme book Jeremy recommended at the end is An Artistic Exile. A very good read.
 said on
August 27, 2013
Thanks, I enjoyed your podcast as usual.

May I submit for your consideration that the ability to talk (attributed by journalist Jeremy to 80% of journalists but only 20% of scholars) does not mean all that much. (Close to nothing, actually...)

Yes, it's 'nice' to listen to someone who speaks in proper sentences, but what actually matters is the content of these sentences. As Kant once said, "thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind." Yet combining intutive knowledge and scholarly concepts isn't as easy as it may seem, so personally I'd cut those who try a lot of slack. The alternatives are shallow soundbyte bloggo-journalism where 'expertise' is a dime a dozen, or armchair theorizations completely detached from reality. Imho, these alternatives have already become so ubiquitous it's scary.

Moreover, I'd also be wary of those with well-phrased answers to everything. Sometimes having thought things through to the end comes at a cost: no longer remaining open-minded enough to change one's views. In our Internet Age, media-savvy personae who talk well and know what sells have become the metaphorical broken record. Boredom and short cuts of thinking, shoved in your face, repeated ad infinitum.
 said on
August 28, 2013
Peter M:

Point taken: not everyone who is articulate is worth listening to. However, this is a podcast, where eloquence is of major importance.

I should also note that I am not a journalist.

 said on
August 29, 2013
I can see how podcasts in particular thrive on eloquence. And apologies for calling you a journalist ;)

Peter M (not an academic -- or not for much longer...)
 said on
August 30, 2013
I would agree to the idea that proper studies in Sinology aren't exactly what would I recommend as a good way to understand China either. Just judging from the personal experience I have with friends back in Berlin who decided to study Sinology or China Studies or whatever it might be called; I can see only very little language skills coming out of that (drop out rate seems to be about 90 percent) and they all seem to have this very weird picture of China being some strangely traditionalist place which just tumbled into the present and is thus even more exotic. Some of them don't seem to have any understanding what is actually going on in China. And this is understandable if you consider that they a) tend to spend most of their time in Europe / USA rather than in China, b) tend to take things easy and party hard instead of studying which results in even less knowledge about China and c) the connections their universities have overseas (including China) are of a very official nature, which means once they get to see China, they will see and experience things which are hardly related to what's going on on the ground ...

At the same time I feel that some of my foreign friends in China (some of them only stayed for half a year for some random self-organized internship or volunteer job or whatever) learn more about the country than most of those who 'study China' back in their home countries for 4 years or whatsoever.
 said on
September 5, 2013
I wish I could speak better on this subject because I enjoy studying Chinese so much, however I have only studied abroad in Taiwan and lived a year in Guangzhou. This is not from lack of desire, but lack of opportunity and my husband who liked Taiwan but hated China (he doesn't like crowds). However, I interact with a number of Chinese expats here and try to keep abreast of events and culture in China - that being said I doubt many Chinese can keep up with the fast pace of cultural changes not to mention that beast called "Pop Culture" - however I do my best.

I also teach Chinese at a local non-profit Chinese Language School that mostly consists of Taiwanese, mainland Chinese and some Hong Kongese. I teach ages 11-12 in their 3rd year of Chinese classes - the section I teach are those that don't speak Chinese at home. My Chinese is not the best and I have to constantly study to keep up (Thank-you Popup!) but I enjoy it and hope to someday either convince my hubby to go to China or get a job where I can travel frequently to China. Until then, a lot of us studying Chinese and Sinology aren't the experts that people living China are, but don't just disregard or condescend us.
Mark Lesson Studied