Arunabh Ghosh '03 - Crisis in Counting: Statistical Struggles in the Early People’s Republic of ChinaArunabh Ghosh '03 - Crisis in Counting: Statistical Struggles in the Early People’s Republic of Chinahttp://www.haverford.edu/calendar/details/242601Magill Philips Wing2013-11-14T16:30:002013-11-14T17:30:00
November 14, 4:30PM–5:30PM
Magill Philips Wing
Young Academic Alumni Lecture Sponsored by the Economics and East Asian Studies Departments and the Libraries
Thursday, November 14
Tea at 4:15 p.m.
Talk at 4:30 p.m.
Philips Wing, Magill Library
Crisis in Counting: Statistical Struggles in the Early People’s Republic of China
Lecture by Arunabh Ghosh '03, Ph.D. Candidate in History at Columbia University
In 1949, victorious Chinese revolutionaries were confronted by the dual challenge of a near absent statistical infrastructure and the pressing theoretical need to escape the universalist claims of (capitalist) statistics. At stake for revolutionary statisticians and economists was a fundamental difficulty: how to ascertain social scientific fact. Resolving it involved not just epistemological and theoretical debates on the unity or disunity of statistical science but also practical considerations surrounding state-capacity building. Rejecting pre-existing traditions of social science research, revolutionary statisticians and economists chose instead to follow the Soviet Union’s ‘advanced experience.’ Statistics was reformulated as a social science, in service to building a socialist society, bifurcating it—rhetorically and substantively—from what was considered the tainted, bourgeois, and socially unproductive pursuit of mathematical statistics. This talk traces the adoption of this new definition of statistics and considers its concomitant influence on the practice of statistical work during the first decade of the PRC.
Arunabh Ghosh is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at Columbia University. He is currently writing his dissertation, a study of statistics and state-society relations in the early People's Republic of China.
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