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Beijing Center Hosts Edwin Winckler’s Talk on American Politics

June 07, 2013

“It’s a perfect topic for us at the Global Center,” said Center Director Joan Kaufman as she introduced Edwin Winckler, who spoke on American Ideology: Three Perspectives-Intellectual Debate, Partisan Simplification, and Public Complexity, at the Beijing Center on May 31, 2013. Kaufman highlighted the significance of the talk on enhancing Chinese intellectual community’s understanding of the U.S. and developing the next generation’s global vision.

“Actually I didn’t realize that Americans do have an ideology until recently,” said Edwin Winckler (at right), adjunct senior research scholar at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute (WEAI) at Columbia University, at the start of his lecture. Contrary to conventional wisdom that the term ideology usually exists in communist states, Winckler argued that Americans do have a political ideology. He illustrated this by pointing to the debate over American intellectual history between conservatives and liberals, the rise of mass parties and their simplification of agenda and a longitudinal record of the distribution of political ideology in the House and the Senate since 1870s. At the end of the talk, Winckler took questions from the audience on political ideology and indoctrination, political representation and other questions.

The event marks the second talk delivered by Winckler at the Center. His previous talk, "American Democracy: Transformative Processes", was well-received by local experts, students, and Columbia alumni last year. The talk kicks off this year’s Weatherhead Forum in Beijing, a collaborative effort between Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University and Columbia Global Centers | East Asia. By hosting public lectures featuring distinguished scholars, the forum aims to promote Columbia faculty’s influence in the local academic community and facilitate dialogue with Chinese scholars and students.