Sinica Podcast
Political Scientist Iza Ding on Authoritarianism, Legitimacy, and "Resilience"

Political Scientist Iza Ding on Authoritarianism, Legitimacy, and "Resilience"

This week on Sinica, Iza Ding, associate professor of political science at Northwestern University and author of The Performative State: Public Scrutiny and Environmental Governance in China, joins to share her ideas on how American academia has framed and problematized authoritarianism, especially when it comes to China. A deep and subtle thinker, she offers thought-provoking critiques of some of the assumptions that have become nearly axiomatic in political science and other social sciences in their approach to understanding politics in China.

3:13 – Iza Ding’s concept of “authoritarian teleology”

15:31 – The concept of authoritarian resilience 

19:58 – The question of regime legitimacy 

24:09 – The question of whether authoritarianism is an ideology 

26:24 – The China model? 

30:58 – Finding a balance between generalizability and the sui generis, and striving toward cognitive empathy and “Verstehen” 

42:04 – The state of area studies and avoiding essentialism 

49:32 – Iza Ding’s advice on how to become a better writer 


Iza: The Wife of Bath: A Biography by Marion Turner — the story of Alison, the Wife of Bath in Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales 

Kaiser: the guitarist Kent Nishimura, especially his recordings of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears, “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police, and “Hey Nineteen” by Steely Dan 

Sinica Podcast
A weekly discussion of current affairs in China that looks at books, ideas, new research, intellectual currents, and cultural trends that help us better understand what’s happening in China’s politics, foreign relations, economics, and society. Join each week for in-depth conversations that shed more light and bring less heat to the way we think and talk about China.