Christian Sorace is a Lecturer of Global China at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Shaken Authority: China’s Communist Party and the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake (Cornell University Press, 2017) and the co-editor of Afterlives of Chinese Communism: Political Concepts from Mao to Xi (ANU Press and Verso Books, 2019) and Proletarian China: One Century of Chinese Labour (Verso Books, 2022). He is currently conducting research on the urbanisation of the grasslands in Inner Mongolia, China, and ger districts in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Cultural Revolution and Revolutionary Culture: A Conversation with Alessandro Russo

Alessandro Russo’s groundbreaking work Cultural Revolution and Revolutionary Culture (Duke University Press, 2020) revisits the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution—a revolutionary process the inheritance of which is still open, even though most of the world, and China in particular, has all but disowned it. In his book, Russo excavates the unfinished work, theoretical debates, and possibilities […]

Biopolitical Binaries (or How Not to Read the Chinese Protests)

On 26 November 2022, prompted by a deadly fire in a high-rise apartment block in Ürümqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, protesters took to streets and university campuses across China calling for an end to the country’s restrictive ‘zero Covid’ policy (清零政策) (Davidson and Yu 2022). Unsurprisingly, the libertarian right, anti-maskers, and […]

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Newborn Socialist Things: A Conversation with Laurence Coderre

I recently participated in an event on ‘Socialist Stuff’ hosted by Stanford’s materia working group. Fittingly, it featured all the technical difficulties typical of hybrid in-person/remote gatherings, but we nonetheless muddled through in pursuit of a productive alchemy between Jacqueline Loss’s work on Cuba and mine on China (Loss 2013; Loss and Prieto 2012). I […]

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Urban Horror: A Conversation with Erin Y. Huang

As dystopic environments become reality, Erin Y. Huang’s Urban Horror: Neoliberal Post-Socialism and the Limits of Visibility (Duke University Press 2020) examines how cinema can help us comprehend the incomprehensible and navigate our own disorientation. For Huang, the scale, speed, and intensity of violence that circulates throughout the neoliberal world exceeds our frames of cognition […]

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Gratitude: The Ideology of Sovereignty in Crisis

In the midst of the pandemic, expressions of gratitude are everywhere. The appreciation of frontline workers can be heard from the balcony singing of Northern Italy to the nightly applause across New York City rooftops. Even the wolves of my own state of Colorado seem to be contributing their evening howls (Gruenauer 2020). Meanwhile, mental […]

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Poetry after the Future

In this essay, Sorace reads migrant-worker poetry alongside Marx to index the trace of a different future in the exploitation and alienation of the present. Worker poets write about lost youth, severed fingers, irregular periods, and labour congealed in commodities for export. The future promised by communism has been erased by a seemingly eternal capitalist present. To dream again requires new acts of poetic and political imagination.

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Illiberal China: A Conversation with Daniel Vukovich

Over the past decade, Western depictions of China have either held up the country’s political culture as a model or demonised it as a danger to liberal societies. But how do mainland politics and discourses challenge ‘our’ own, chiefly liberal and anti-‘statist’ political frameworks? To what extent is China paradoxically intertwined with a liberal economism? […]

Communist Hibernation

I recognise in thieves, traitors, and murderers, in the ruthless and the cunning, a deep beauty—a sunken beauty. Jean Genet Geng Jun’s films are set in north-eastern China where he grew up. As Geng Jun put it in an interview I conducted with him at a friend’s studio in Songzhuang this past August: When people […]

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