The Beastly Politics of China’s Margins

Under Xi Jinping, China’s policies towards minorities have taken an aggressively assimilationist turn. But even before the Xi era, for many of the ethnic minorities of China’s borderlands, the early twenty-first century was a time of social upheaval that generated profound anxieties about culture loss. The ‘Open Up the West’ (西部大开发) development campaign, launched in […]

Securitising History: Reimagining and Reshaping the ‘Imagined Community’ in China’s New Era

In the summer of 2023, the British Museum hosted a major exhibition titled ‘China’s Hidden Century’ (British Museum 2023). This ambitious display aimed to present the political, economic, and social transformations of China under the late Qing Dynasty in the nineteenth century. On a microlevel, it aspired to show the creativity, diversity, and resilience of […]

Teaching China in Alabama Prisons in Six Objects

  I celebrate teaching that enables transgressions—a movement against and beyond boundaries. It is that movement which makes education the practice of freedom. —bell hooks (2014: 12)   All kinds of contraband items were smuggled into the Alabama prisons where I worked as an educator and administrative assistant from June 2022 to January 2024 through […]

Anxiety Aesthetics: A Conversation with Jennifer Dorothy Lee

How do revolutions end? In Anxiety Aesthetics: Maoist Legacies in China, 1978–1985 (University of California Press, 2024), Jennifer Dorothy Lee asks how the aesthetic and cultural projects of the socialist period should be understood in the immediate aftermath of Mao Zedong’s death. Focusing on the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, Lee argues that the activist […]

Spectres of Anticolonial Internationalism in Contemporary China

Observations during a Time of Global Struggle

On 1 March 2022, just one week after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an anonymous group of internationalists from mainland China composed a letter expressing their support for the Ukrainian people. The document, titled ‘Sharing the Shame: A Letter from Internationalists in Mainland China’ (与有耻焉: 来自中国大陆国际主义者的一封信), was subsequently published by Chuang, a website renowned for its […]

The Biopolitics of the Three-Child Policy

Since the 1980 launch of the One-Child Policy, population has been a fraught domain of Chinese politics. An analysis of Weibo comments suggests that the announcement in the mid-2010s of the Two-Child Policy was met with excitement and hope—a sign that the government had heard the people’s demands and opened the circle of freedom after […]

Science Interrupted: A Conversation with Timothy G. McLellan

In Science Interrupted: Rethinking Research Practice with Bureaucracy, Agroforestry, and Ethnography (Cornell University Press, 2024), anthropologist Timothy G. McLellan investigates and breaks down audit cultures and the practice of dealing with bureaucracy within scientific research. The book takes place within a transnational agroforestry research institute in southwest China, the Institute for Farms and Forests (IFF), […]

The Double-Edged Sword of Modernisation

The Integration of Yi Migrant Workers into China’s Labour Market

My ideal is barren on the assembly line, my time is moaning on the sewing machine. … The city and I are separated by an insurmountable gully, the beauty of the other shore seems only one step away from me. But when this step fails, my dream will fall into the abyss. Uneasy poems set […]

Are You Okay?

I couldn’t be content with just reading books and visiting libraries. In a historical situation [the Algerian Revolution] in which in every moment, every political statement, every discussion, every petition, the whole reality was at stake, it was absolutely necessary to be at the heart of events and to form one’s own opinion, however dangerous […]

Troubling the Water

The story begins with water. ‘How do we make sure that that spigot remains open and free?’ an audience member asked during a panel discussion on scientific collaboration between the United States and China. He pointed out that the ‘very, very best students’ recruited from around the world are the ‘secret sauce’ that makes the […]

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