A recent book by sports anthropologist and former professional athlete Susan Brownell, Beijing’s Games: What the Olympics Mean to China, provides an optimistic view of the myriad issues surrounding the upcoming Games in Beijing. From an interview with Brownell in the Wall Street Journal:
Last summer, when she was revising the book, she went home to visit her mother and asked her to review it. While Ms. Brownell sat on an upstairs balcony reading proofs, she began to hear her mother on the patio below.
“She’d yell upstairs her disapproval,” Ms. Brownell says. “It was the idea that China is an evil government that oppresses its people — human rights, religious freedom and so on.”
Ms. Brownell doesn’t dispute that China has problems, but she says many Western criticisms are hypocritical or ignore the huge progress China has made in many areas. More than that, she sees the two sides’ failure to understand each other as a tragedy.
– An essay by Brownell on China Beat blog, “Beijing Olympic FAQ #1: Politics and the Olympics”
– A Q&A with Brownell from the Seattle Times.
– An excerpt of the book, via the publisher Rowman and Littlefield