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Seminar V: The Victim in Society

Monday 18 March 2013, 2pm-5pm
Birkbeck Cinema, 43 Gordon Square

In this penultimate seminar, Vulnerable Selves, Disciplining Others turns to the Human Rights field, and investigates being victim and being perpetrator through the documentary Free China. We are delighted to welcome the protagonist of the documentary, Jennifer Zeng, as well as the producer, Kean Wong. Ethan Gutmann will offer a wider context. Finally, Prof Alyson Cole, author of the groundbreaking The Cult of True Victimhood, will conclude the seminar by reflecting on justice, the nature of subjugation, and the possibility of resistance or change with an examination of concrete political ideologies.

Free China: The Courage to Believe
Co-Produced with NTD Television, Free China: The Courage to Believe is a new documentary by Michael Perlman the award-winning director of Tibet: Beyond Fear. In telling the courageous stories of Jennifer Zeng and Charles Lee, who were persecuted by the Chinese government for their spiritual beliefs in the ancient meditation practice of Falun Gong, the film exposes the widespread human rights violations that still take place today in China. It examines the conditions in the Chinese prison re-education program, the brutality of an authoritarian state against tens of millions of Falun Gong practitioners, and the efforts by people of conscience to stop the persecution.

As political scandals surface and tensions rise along with more than one hundred and fifty thousand protests occurring each year inside China, this timely documentary also highlights the issue of unfair trade practices with the West and how Internet technologies and the re-emergence of traditional Chinese culture are helping bring freedom to 1.3 billion people in China.

Victims and Perpetrators: Losing the New China
Ethan Gutmann (Foundation for Defense of Democracies, New York)

Characterized as a "mammoth sociological, political whistleblower" by National Review, Ethan Gutmann is the author of Losing the New China: A Story of American Commerce, Desire and Betrayal. At the government and intelligence level, Gutmann's seminal research into Chinese Internet surveillance, the Laogai System, and the intersection of western business with Chinese security objectives has received sustained attention in Washington, London and Brussels. Formerly a Senior Counselor at APCO China and a Visiting Fellow at Project for the New American Century, Ethan Gutmann has also written widely on Chinese military development, human rights, the US business scene in Beijing and the recent hacking phenomenon for The Asian Wall Street Journal, Investor's Business Daily, The Weekly Standard, National Review, World Affairs Journal, and other publications.

He will be reflecting on Free China, and provide a comprehensive history of the clash between Falun Gong and the Chinese state. While considering victim and perpetrator relations, Gutmann will also touch on the Chinese-Uyghur conflict, and the underlying ambiguity of the Chinese Communist Party's stance towards the Islamist global challenge.


Free China: The Fight for Freedom
Jennifer Zeng and Kean Wong (New Tang Dynasty Television)

Jennifer Zeng is a mainland Chinese-born human rights activist and author, best known for her practice of Falun Gong, the subsequent government suppression of the movement, and the book she wrote about her experience regarding Falun Gong: Witnessing History: One Chinese Woman's Fight for Freedom and Falun Gong. A mother and former Communist Party member, Jennifer was imprisoned for her faith. As she endures physical and mental torture, she has to decide: does she stand her ground and languish in jail, or does she recant her belief so she can tell her story to the world?

With an eclectic mix of actuarial finance training and passion for personal development, Kean Wong moved into the world of management consulting, where he worked for clients in a wide range of industries, including funds management, finance, real estate, fashion, software, biotechnology, health and wellness as well as the TV infomercial industry. Following his calling, he moved to New York where over the last 7 years he’s been volunteering for New Tang Dynasty Television. At NTD, Kean produced/hosted a variety of shows, including “The New Millionaire”, and was the lead male anchor for China News and Asia Brief from 2005-2011. Since 2010 he has been the main host of NTD’s International Chinese Culinary Competition in Times Square, dubbing himself a ‘Freedom Fighting Foodie’

The Cult of True Victimhood
Prof Alyson Cole

Queen’s College, City University of New York, NY Alyson Cole’s research and teaching interests bridge political theory and American politics/culture. Cole's work links central questions of political thought especially formulations of justice, the nature of subjugation, and the possibility of resistance or change with an examination of concrete political ideologies, rhetoric, and law/policy- making, emphasizing aspects of subject-formation, gender and race/ethnicity. Her articles have appeared in American Studies, Feminist Studies, the Michigan Law Review, and the National Women’s Studies Association Journal. She is on the editorial boards of Women’s Studies Quarterly and International Journal of Criminology and Sociological Theory.

She will talk to us about her book The Cult of True Victimhood: From the War on Welfare to the War on Terror.