2015 Ivan Fahs Memorial Symposium

Development as Respect

Becky Hsu

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology welcomed Dr. Becky Hsu for the 13th annual Fahs Symposium on Thursday October 1, 2015 where she presented an address entitled "Development as Respect."

Dr. Hsu is assistant professor of sociology at Georgetown University. Her research interests include China, religion, organizations, global aid and development. Much of Hsu's research looks into the dynamic of NGO involvement in the impoverished rural areas of southwestern China, and how the approach to aid in those areas shapes successes and failures. Her investigation into this dynamic realized the differing priorities held by local villagers and aid organizations. She researched the aims of donors, local administrators, field workers, and the villagers themselves. Drawing from her ethnographic work in rural China on an NGO, Dr. Hsu reflected on the assumptions about personhood that are often embedded in standard global poverty alleviation models.

Hsu received a B.A. in Sociology with 'cum laude' and distinction in the major from Yale University, M.A. with distinction and Ph.D. from the sociology department at Princeton University. Inspired by the sociological findings in Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American life, which examined the relationship between religion and morality in American society, Hsu continued in her scholarship teaming with some fellow sociologists investigating the understanding of happiness (or fu in Chinese) in Chinese society. With help from a $850,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation, Hsu pulled together of a team of collaborators to aid in this research including Richard Madsen, UCSD; Deborah Davis, Yale University; Anna Sun, Kenyon College; and José Casanova, Senior fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and professor of Sociology at Georgetown.