Monday, April 25, 2011

Below the sulphurous haze

With 35 million blogs here in China, it feels appropriate to post something on Rawls & Me as I land in Beijing. But the simple fact that I need to use an encrypted network tunnel to get this post up also says something about blogging from China.

Today, I have been visiting the Faculty of Law at Tsinghua University which will be our partner in the EU-funded exchange programme that I am working on this summer.

After the conference euphoria in London last week (see previous post), I went up to Stockholm for Easter to see my sister and her boyfriend. As often, we ushered into long political debates about everything from the mechanisms of labour markets to cultural politics. I like these debates since they let me be wholeheartedly "Left" whereas I otherwise often have to defend more market-liberal views. The funny thing is that my sister's boyfriend in his turn is considered leftish by his colleagues at work... Talk about relative denominations. Except politics, we also went for a run in the forest and a nice walk on Söder.

All that feels very distant, not only after those endless hours over Russia, but also mentally. If anything, Beijing reminds me a bit of a Warsaw on steroids with its colossal scale, coal-infused inland air and wide roads. Especially since, below the sulphurous haze, one can find all those gems and pretty cafés with their large comfy sofas, green orchards and travel-planning expats. Just walking down this trendy hútòng next to the Lama Temple, I stumbled upon a number of small places that I most certainly will return to through the summer. It is a strange kind of reassurance, that despite the recent wave of repression, post-modernity seems to be well and alive.

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