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Benjamin Lee (academic)

Benjamin Lee (academic): “

Rbanzai: Added ‘wikify’ tag

”’Benjamin Lee”’ is a professor of anthropology and philosophy at the New School for Social Research. Lee has broad expertise in contemporary China, the cultural dimensions of globalization, and modern theories of language. He also serves as a member of the Editorial Collective of the journal [[Public Culture]], in which he has authored several essays.

During the summer of 2006, Lee was appointed provost of The New School. His appointment came after two years of service as dean of The New School for Social Research, one of the eight divisions of The New School. In 2008, Lee was replaced as provost by Joseph Westphal.

In 1969, Lee graduated at the top of his class at Johns Hopkins University with a BA in psychology. At the University of Chicago, he completed his MA in human development in 1973 and his PhD in anthropology in 1986. While there, he met Arjun Appadurai, his long-time intellectual partner and colleague. (Appadurai is today Senior Adviser to the President for Global Initiatives and John Dewey Distinguished Professor in the Social Sciences at The New School after having served as provost through June 2006.)

He chose Chicago because it was at the cutting edge of the ‘linguistic turn’ in the humanities and social sciences. His own work explored the hypothesis that instead of being a passive medium for thought and action, language plays an active role in their mediation, a position made famous by his namesake, Benjamin Lee Whorf. Because this theory incorporated research from different disciplines, he read widely in philosophy, anthropology, literary criticism, and psychology. His major intellectual influences were the anthropologists Victor Turner, Milton Singer, and Michael Silverstein, the psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg, the philosopher Donald Davidson, and the literary theorist Paul de Man. The rigor and depth of this interdisciplinary training greatly influenced his dissertation, ‘The Objectivity of Subjectivity’, which examined the linguistic dimensions of Marxist and philosophical notions of objectification and their role in the creation of the mind-body dualism. He also co-authored and edited several books as a graduate student: The Development of Adaptive Intelligence (1974); Psychosocial Theories of the Self (1982); Developmental Approaches to the Self (1983).

In 1985, while finishing his doctorate, he became the director of the Center for Transcultural Studies in Chicago, which promoted the internationalization of culture and communication. It was a model for other universities looking to establish think tanks that combine sophisticated cultural and political analysis with international issues. The Center worked closely with senior scholars including Jürgen Habermas, Pierre Bourdieu, and Charles Taylor (the current president of the Center), as well as a host of then junior (now senior) scholars: Ackbar Abbas, Arjun Appadurai, Lauren Berlant, Craig Calhoun, Nancy Fraser, Nilufer Gole, Moishe Postone, and Michael Warner. Lee created a global network of more than twenty institutions, which was supported by over $2 million of grants from a variety of foundations, including MacArthur, Rockefeller, and Luce.

Between 1986 and 1989, he established and directed a unique joint-venture in Beijing: the Sino-American Center for Comparative Studies in Culture and Communication at the University of Foreign Studies. In 1989, his fourth edited volume, Semiotics, Self, and Society, appeared. He also used these years to organize over fifty high-profile US conferences, workshops, and colloquiums on an extraordinary range of topics: Wittgenstein and political theory; postmodernism and critical theory; representations of consciousness; mind in context; language and education; the relationship of social practice, social structure, and social value. Perhaps the most thrilling project was to support post-doctoral fellows from India, China, and Russia in the wake of the events of 1989. The Center for Transcultural Studies organized a multiyear seminar on the public sphere and civil society for the fellows, which resulted in the introduction of these ideas into Chinese political discourse during the post-Tiananmen period.

By the early 1990s, Lee’s research focused on multiculturalism, critical internationalism, globalization, nationalism, and contemporary Chinese culture. His published articles in top journals like Critical Inquiry and Public Culture. In 1994, he founded and edited a book series, Public Worlds, with University of Minnesota Press, and a similar one, Public Planet, withDuke University Press. Public Worldshas become perhaps the leading series on cultural issues in globalization, while Public Planetreaches increasingly wider audiences with its shorter, topical investigations of contemporary cultural and political topics.

In 1995, while continuing to direct his Chicago Center, Lee became a professor of anthropology and Asian studies at Rice University, where he directed the Transnational China Project at the James A. Baker Institute of Policy Studies. The project used advanced technologies and new forms of knowledge production to promote a more nuanced conception of contemporary China. In 1997, Lee published a major work called Talking Heads: Language, Metalanguage, and the Semiotics of Subjectivity, the culmination of many years of research and writing in linguistics and philosophy. From 1999-2001, he taught comparative literature at the University of Hong Kong.

In 2004, he left Rice to become dean of The New School for Social Research, a position he held through June 2006. Also in 2004, he published with Edward Lipuma a Public Planet bookentitled Derivatives and the Globalization of Risk. As a Guggenheim fellow in 2004-5, Lee undertook a related, ongoing research project, ‘From Primitives to Derivatives,’ which deepens the argument of his co-authored volume. (A preliminary version of this book will appear in a bilingual Chinese-English edition.) More specifically, it engages important debates in the social sciences today—those that probe the extra-economic effects of finance capital, speculation, and risk management.

Near the end of 2004, Lee launched The India China Institute (ICI) at The New School with Arjun Appadurai and university president Bob Kerrey. The institute works directly with political leaders, public intellectuals, opinion-builders and academics in all three countries to address key challenges through collaborative solutions. As Lee describes it, ‘ICI represents a way for The New School to rethink its tradition and become more global. It is a natural outgrowth of The New School—especially The New School for Social Research and its long tradition of critical thought.’

In 2005 and 2006, he oversaw far-reaching initiatives between The New School for Social Research (NSSR) and other New School divisions, especially Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts. Perhaps the most notable was an agreement that formalized the role of NSSR in creating an undergraduate social science curriculum. During that time, he also created a long-term strategic plan for NSSR that has put the school on a more stable path toward academic excellence and financial stability.

== Selected Bibliography ==

* ”From Primitives to Derivatives” (coauthor, 2004)
* ”Derivatives and the Globalization of Risk” (coauthor, 2004)
* ‘The Subjects of Circulation,’ in U. Hedetoft and M. Hjort (Eds.), The Postnational Self: Belonging and Identity (2002)
* ‘Cultures of Circulation: The Imaginations of Modernity,’ in Public Culture (coauthor, 2002)
* ‘Peoples and Publics,’ in Public Culture (1998)
* Talking Heads: Language, Metalanguage, and the Semiotics of Subjectivity (1997)
* ‘Critical Internationalism,’ in Public Culture (1995)
* ‘Going Public,’ Public Culture (1993)
* ”Semiotics, Self, and Society” (coeditor, 1989)
* ”Developmental Approaches to the Self” (coeditor, 1983)
* ”Psychosocial Theories of the Self” (editor, 1982)
* ”The Development of Adaptive Intelligence” (coauthor, 1974)

== External links ==

1. [ New School Office of the Provost Bio]<br>
2. [ New School for Social Research Faculty Page]

(Via Wikipedia – New pages [en].)

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