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World Politics Discussed in University Theater

Professors from UC Irvine and Stanford discuss globalism and global politics

Professors+Aishwary+Kumar+%28left%29+and+Jeffrey+Wasserstrom+%28right%29
Professors Aishwary Kumar (left) and Jeffrey Wasserstrom (right)

Professors Aishwary Kumar (left) and Jeffrey Wasserstrom (right)

Ani Nalbandian

Ani Nalbandian

Professors Aishwary Kumar (left) and Jeffrey Wasserstrom (right)

Ani Nalbandian, Staff Reporter

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Two highly acclaimed professors of history gave a joint lecture in the USU Theatre on Friday titled, Asia and the world: politics of “Anger & Hate”. Aishwary Kumar, Assistant Professor of Intellectual History at Stanford University, focused his analysis on populism in India and the U.S. Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Chancellor’s Professor of History at UC Irvine, gave his breakdown of China’s role in global affairs.

The event kicked off with a lecture by Wasserstrom detailing the classification of governments around the world and how more often than not they should be labeled as hybrid regimes. He explained how unlike the prospects of the twentieth century, most governments became both hybrids of democratic and authoritarian nature.  

Wasserstrom described how the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympics showcased the government’s fusion of Confucianism, Communism, and Capitalism.  He further commented on the similarities in the messaging of Xi Xing Ping, China’s President, and President Trump. Both have advertised themselves as men of the downtrodden, crusaders of anti-corruption, and arbiters of making the countries “great again”.

Aishwary Kumar compared the use of symbolism in India and the U.S. over recent years. The Dalits in India, an oppressed minority outside the caste system, have refused to collect the dead animals in streets as a form of protest. Their civil disobedience is a step towards change and is used as a symbol of hope. Similarly, protests such as the women’s march in the U.S. can be used as a symbol of disobedience to fight against the oppression of an authoritarian regime. Kumar commented, “Authoritarians hate symbols”.

With over 200 audience members filling the theater, organizer of the event, Dr. Choi Chaterjee, provided an open forum for students to ask questions throughout the lecture. Students asked about the importance of symbolism in the fight against authoritarian leaders, the fallout of increased manufacturing in China, and whether protests are still a viable tool to bring concrete change.

If you would like to hear more from Kumar, his book “Radical Equality” has gained a lot of traction recently. Jefferey Wasserstom also has a novel showcasing his knowledge about China called “China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know”.

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World Politics Discussed in University Theater