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Susanne Brandtstädter (University of Cologne) gave a talk titled “Rising Above the Ordinary: Justice, Virtue, and Normative Change in the Chinese Countryside” in our visiting seminar on February 16th, 2018.
Susanne Brandtstädter’s paper explores self-generated normative as a social phenomenon by focusing on the political dynamics of justice, virtue and action. The ethnographic backdrop of her paper are the moral arguments, discursive strategies, and legal activities of a groups of so-called ‘barefoot lawyers’ in rural China, legal councilors and political activists of rural extraction who have no formal education and no law degree. The paper will widely draw on Brandtstädter’s readings of Chinese history and philosophy, but the points she wishes to make are rooted in fieldwork encounters with these peasant lawyers between 2006 and 2012.