Meritocracy and Its Discontents: Anxiety and the National College Entrance Exam in China

Event time: 
Wednesday, April 14, 2021 - 7:30pm
Event description: 
With Guest Zachary Howlett, Yale NUS College
Anthropologist Zachary Howlett investigates a pivotal educational rite of passage China’s Gaokao, the national college entrance exam taken annually by nine million high school seniors. The Gaokao is a cornerstone of China’s ideal of meritocracy, determining college admission and offering the promise of an urban lifestyle for China’s hundreds of millions of rural residents. But with college graduates struggling to find good jobs, some are questioning the exam’s legitimacy—and, by extension, the fairness of Chinese society. Chronicling the experiences of underprivileged youth, Zachary M. Howlett’s research illuminates how the exam enables people both to rebel against the social hierarchy and to achieve recognition within it.