October 15, 2012 – A Quest for Security or Invincibility? The Question of Motive in China’s Military Expansionism

DATE: Monday, October 15, 2012 at 7:30 AM
LOCATION: Bangor Public Library
SPEAKER: Dr. Don Wyatt, John M. McCardell, Jr. Distinguished Professor, Middlebury College

Abstract: While emphasizing the “peacefulness” of her rise, the People’s Republic of China will likely continue to allocate the same double-digit percentage increases to her military budget as made over the past ten years. Indeed, so committed has China’s political leadership been to military expansion that the country will emerge within the next two decades as the world’s largest defense spender. Yet, China’s motives for such military assertiveness have been as veiled as its aspirations have been transparent. In this talk, the plausible intentions behind China’s military buildup will be enumerated and explored in light of several comparable developments in the past.

“China’s Other Demographic Challenge”

DATE: Monday, October 15, 2012 at 4:00 PM
LOCATION: University of Maine, 107 DP Corbett
SPEAKER: Dr. Don Wyatt, John M. McCardell, Jr. Distinguished Professor, Middlebury College

Abstract: The success of the People’s Republic of China at controlling population size has attracted world attention in equal parts commendation and scorn. The most salient element of this strategy is of course the one-child family policy. However, little known to us in the West is that many in China are exempted from this policy. Among these exempted constituencies are the 55 non-Han minority groups, who in aggregate comprise less than a tenth of the overall population. What are the political and cultural ramifications of having an entire—albeit small—segment of society freed from the consequential constraints to which a substantially larger majority must conform?

Dr. Don Wyatt

About the Speaker: DON J. WYATT is John M. McCardell, Jr. Distinguished Professor in the Department of History. Born in Illinois in 1953, he graduated from Beloit College in Wisconsin, as a Phi Beta Kappa inductee with a bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies, in 1975. He entered Harvard University’s Regional Studies-East Asia program in 1976, where he obtained the master’s degree in 1978, and continued thereafter in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, from which he received the doctoral degree in 1984. Wyatt arrived at Middlebury College in 1986, where—by teaching courses ranging from early and modern Chinese and East Asian history to non-Western philosophy and the philosophy of history—he has contributed from the first not only to the curriculum of History but also to that of the Department of Philosophy. His scholarly production includes works on the Chinese philosophical traditions of all premodern periods, with specialization in the several centuries of the Chinese “middle imperial period” generally and the Song dynasty (CE 960-1279), which is often thought to commence China’s “early modern” era, in particular. His established interests include the history of traditional and immediate post-traditional Chinese intellectualism, and especially that of the development of Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism. He has also produced works on customary Chinese ideas about war and warfare and on the historical and political dimensions of the early construction of Chinese cultural identity. His research has been supported by two generous residencies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, in 2004 and 2010. His most recent book is The Blacks of Premodern China (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010). He is presently at work on projects as diverse as a study of the history of Chinese ethnic identity formation as a function of color consciousness; a contribution to the forthcoming volume The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art, edited by David Bindman, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Suzanne Blier; and various other unrelated scholarly pursuits.