On day 4 in Shanghai I delivered my presentation to academics and postgraduate students at the Centre for Global Studies. Professor Yong-an Zhang had been kind enough to act as my academic contact in Shanghai, had arranged for Isabelle to act as my guide and had sponsored my visa application (of which he told me he had to actually field a call from the Chinese Embassy in London who were querying whether my visit was bona-fide).
The lecture went very well, produced a helpful discussion and also facilitated / helped lay the foundation for a range of agreed future activities between myself and Professor Yong-an, and Plymouth University and the University of Shanghai. These activities will certainly involve continued research around spitting in China as well as drugs (Prof Zhang is a research expert on the history of drug control in China) and drug issues – also my primary area of research expertise. Discussions have begun also on future exchange possibilities (staff and students) as well as the potential for developing taught programmes to be delivered jointly.
One issue that came up related to the way that Shanghai was changing in regards to spitting; the ways that migrant workers and local spitters, whilst not being coerced into change may feel less able to spit with abandon when confronted by cleaner environments where spitting would feel wrong/out of place (Mary Douglas for example talks of the way that ‘matter’ (e.g. spit; smoking; litter) can go from being accepted to ‘out of place’ depending on the context.
I am joined in the picture by Professor Zhang (left) and Dr Fowler Zeng (Guie) Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of the School of Foreign Languages (second from the right).