Xu Bin is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Emory University. His research focuses on how an authoritarian state interacts with a burgeoning civil society and on collective memory. His latest book is The Politics of Compassion: the Sichuan Earthquake and Civic Engagement in China (Stanford University Press 2017).

The World Is Yours! Youth and Civic Engagement from Sichuan to Parkland

In the wake of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake millions of volunteers were driven by sorrow, love, and compassion to travel to Sichuan to help with the relief effort. This spontaneous and self-organised movement of idealistic youths was unprecedented in contemporary Chinese history. However, many of them failed to transcend the boundary between simple volunteering and the type of activism necessary to address the causes of suffering in the wake of the earthquake.

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