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Weekly Colloquium,  Critical Global Studies Institute, Sogan University 

Time & Date: 16.30-18.30 (KST) Thursday 3 December 2020

ZOOM Venue: ID: 691 582 0895

Language: English ​

Critical Global Studies Institute Weekly Colloquium Site:


William A. Callahan 

(Professor of International Relations, Department of International Relations, the London School of Economics and Political Science)


The Visual Politics of Map-fare: Using Early-Modern Chinese and Korean Maps to Understand the South China Sea Disputes 


William A. Callahan is professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His recent books include Sensible Politics: Visualizing International Relations (OUP, 2020), China Dreams: 20 Visions of the Future (OUP, 2015) and China: The Pessoptimist Nation (OUP: 2010). Callahan also makes documentary films: ‘Great Walls’ (28 min., 2020) asks why we hate Trump’s wall and love the Great Wall of China, and ‘You can see China from here’ (14 min., 2020) reconsiders how borders work in the age of coronavirus.  


Visual images are everywhere in international politics. But how are we to understand them? In Sensible Politics (OUP, 2020), William A. Callahan uses his expertise in social theory, China studies, and filmmaking to explore not only what visuals mean, but also how visuals can viscerally move and connect us in “affective communities of sense.” While it is common to use “Western” theory to analyze Asian case studies, the book challenges such Eurocentrism by employing Chinese and Asian concepts, practices and experiences to understand international politics more generally. The seminar will give a general overview of Sensible Politics’s arguments, and then an in-depth discussion of how Chapter 7, “Maps, Space, and Power,” analyzes early-modern Chinese and Korean maps to explain the PRC’s current policy in the South China Sea. It shows how maps don’t just represent the Earth, but actually can emotionally move people, and thus “do” things – map-fare – by provoking affective communities of sense. 

This colloquium is organised by Critical Global Studies Institute, Sogan University and co-hosted by the Asian Association of World Historians. 

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