Friday, April 01, 2011

The Hawaii Convention Center

After waking up at 1 am, falling back asleep until 3 am, tossing and turning until 4:30 am, and then just giving up, it seemed like forever until 8 am and our panel on "Changing Social Configurations and New Media Technologies in China" had finally arrived. By "we" I mean myself and a group of colleagues from UC-Irvine, Texas A&M, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It's always hard to judge one's own work, but I thought it went well and the panel itself was reasonably well attended.

When you think about it, any attendance at a location like this is something to speak about, given the nature of the surroundings. And the Hawaii Convention Center accentuates the surroundings, with its glass walls and open air configuration. (The second and third pictures are two conference attendees gettin' it done in a particularly lovely little corner of the convention center.)

As yet another indication that this is not the ordinary kind of academic conference that I take part in, there is a film festival going on during the duration of the proceedings. Intrigued, after our panel I decided to check out a 21 minute film about Jingdezhen, a town that used to be the pottery capital of China, going back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. A few years back, the central government decided to shut down its state-owned enterprises in the city, as part of its ongoing reform and opening up movement. The film does a nice job capturing some of the dislocations and entrepreneurial responses that have occurred in the aftermath of the emptying out of the "iron rice bowl" (the cradle-to-grave protections that characterized the Mao-era economy). And to top it off, the filmmaker was there to answer questions, an interesting session that revealed some of the aspects of the movie that Jingdezhen residents didn't like when they were given a screening last year (like how the movie made their town look kind of dumpy).

Throw in a later panel on income inequality in China (income on the whole is going up, as is inequality), and it was not a bad day at the Hawaii Convention Center.

~Steve

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