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McDougall, B.S.

McDougall, B.S.

Bonnie McDougall, born in Sydney, Australia, in 1941. Ph.D. from the University of Sydney. Professor of Chinese at the University of Edinburgh.

Fellow (1 September 2000 – 30 June 2001)

Privacy as a subject for academic study in Western countries arises in philosophy, law, sociology, anthropology, politics, literature and cultural studies. Most commonly, it is defined in the context of rights or interests with respect to an individual’s personal ‘space’ subject to threat of invasion from public bodies or other individuals (Westin, 1967), or in the context of interpersonal relations with respect to autonomy, integrity and the affirmation of ordinary life (Taylor, 1989). The absence of privacy as a concept in China is a familiar conversational topos (Scurfield, 1995) that has not received convincing scholarly investigation (Moore, 1984). My investigations show that whereas the content and mechanism of privacy differ in the U.S.A., other Western countries and China, its functions and values have common characteristics.

I am pleased to report that all of my objectives for my stay at NIAS have been reached. My book-length monograph has been completed and submitted to a university press in the UK. With co-operation of Maghiel van Crevel, Professor of Chinese Language & Literature at Leiden University, I organised a workshop jointly held at Leiden University and NIAS on “Chinese Concepts of Privacy”, in May-June 2001, in which fifteen papers were presented and discussed by some twenty participants from the Netherlands, the U.K., the U.S.A., Russia, Austria, China and Taiwan. A selection of eight of these papers has been submitted to Brill for publication, including my own paper on the functions and values of privacy in twentieth-century correspondence. Another paper I presented at the workshop, on the treatment of privacy in studies of pre-modern China by Western scholars, has been revised to serve as the introduction to this volume, of which I will be editor. Publication is expected in June 2002.