Reading widely, organizing disparate thoughts, drafting chunks of ideas. Relocating myself in my old field–a very strange feeling, as if I had been living on a different planet for more than a decade.

Things have changed. For instance, I now read Tang Xiaobing’s Visual Culture in Contemporary China. Then I go back to the review that Wendy Larson wrote of the book. I remember reading these lines in 2016:

Perhaps Tang’s anger, and his willingness to express it so pungently in an academic book, should make us wonder if we have overestimated the possibilities for true cross-cultural understanding. Perhaps the global imaginary of a seamless world that respects difference has failed to recognize that culture demands some degree of allegiance, and when confronted, the sense that one’s culture is “right” and that outsiders cannot possibly understand it is difficult to avoid. Perhaps our hopeful cosmopolitan vision has wantonly ignored the rootedness of human beings, their commitment to certain views of their lives in the world, and their desire to sustain their way of life, rejecting other narratives.

I remember that in 2016 I thought these lines were ironic, an exaggeration. Now, looking at the current state of things, I am not so sure.