At the beginning of December, the Pulitzer Prize winner Ian Johnson will visit Slovakia and students as well as the wider public will have an opportunity to meet with him in person.

28. 11. 2018 16.18 hod.
By: CU Public Relations Office

China currently has the second strongest economy in the world and is a major international player. But what thoughts, beliefs, and values are behind its birth and rise as a modern superpower? What are the ideas and hopes of its inhabitants? The Pulitzer Prize winner Ian Johnson has been travelling to China for thirty-five years and even lived there over a period of twenty years. Thanks to this, he understands very well the vast changes that the most populous state in the world has been undergoing in its journey from a being a poor country to a world superpower. 

The lecture will examine the following issues:

  • What was China like in 1984, when Johnson first went there?
  • How had the country changed when he returned in 1994 and how did it change while he lived there for seven years?
  • How had it changed when he returned there again to write about the 2008 Beijing Olympics?
  • Is China simply the “world’s factory” or can it provide more than that? What values unite Chinese society? Why do people feel a spiritual crisis and why should society provide something more than just an economy?
  • How many people are inclined to be religious and have a form of faith in order to meet spiritual emptiness?
  • China appears to the outside world as a communist country, but it is currently experiencing a massive return to religion. The Chinese government has noticed this and is actively supporting some creeds, such as Buddhism and Tao, which is a native religion of China. What does it mean then to be Chinese? 

Lectures including discussions will take place on the following dates:

  • 3 December 2018 (Monday) at 10 am in the Historical Auditorium of Pavol Jozef Šafárik University, 2 Šrobárova St, Košice
  • 5 December 2018 (Wednesday) at 4 pm in the Comenius University Auditorium, 6 Šafárik Square, Bratislava

Who is Ian Johnson?

Ian Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize winner and a writer who focuses on society, religion, and history. He spent almost twenty years in China as a student and later on as a correspondent for the Baltimore Sun and Wall Street Journal. He dealt with macroeconomics, China's accession to the World Trade Organization, and social issues. Johnson returned to China in 2009. He is currently writing for several periodical publications, including the New York Times and the New York Review of Books. He also teaches and runs a postgraduate programme at the Beijing Center and acts as an adviser to several academic journals and expert groups. Johnson also worked in Germany as a freelance journalist and contributed to several periodicals. Later he wrote for the Wall Street Journal as the head of its German editorial office and chief editor, focusing on macroeconomic issues in Europe and Islamic terrorism. He has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize twice. He received this award in 2001 for his reports from China. He has also received two Overseas Press Club Awards, one award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and a Shorenstein Journalism Award for his articles about Asia in 2017. He has published three books: Wild Grass, A Mosque in Munich, and The Souls of China: The Return of Religion after Mao, which describes the religious renewal of China and its implications for politics and society. He has written chapters to collective works such as My First Trip to China, Chinese Characters, and the Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China.

Live coverage of the Comenius University lecture will be available from the Tatra banka Foundation web page.

You can join this event on the university’s Facebook page.

Video record.