The Surveillance Vaccine

Surveillance, Censorship, and the Body under Covid-19

One of my companions throughout the Covid-19 lockdown has been Gushi.FM (故事FM), a podcast that is an oral historical archive, a diverse digital memory bank with stories of poverty, exploitation, coming out of the closet, and much more. At its heart, Gushi.FM is about giving people a voice. The podcast’s coverage of Covid-19–related events began […]

Hong Kong in Revolt: A Conversation with Au Loong-Yu

For the past year and a half, Hong Kong has been in turmoil, with a new generation of young and politically active citizens mobilising to protest Beijing’s tightening grip over the city. In Hong Kong in Revolt: The Protest Movement and the Future of China (Pluto Books 2020), prominent Hong Kong leftist intellectual Au Loong-Yu […]

China’s Second-generation Ethnic Policies Are Already Here

What China’s History of Paper Genocide Can Tell Us about the Future of Its ‘Minority Nationalities’

In early June this year, officials in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) released a new policy that would drastically undermine the use of the Mongolian language in schools, effectively replacing it as a language of instruction with Chinese (Baioud 2020). In response to this unwelcome imposition, petitions began circulating, calling for the repeal of […]

Experiences of the Soul: On William Somerset Maugham’s Far Eastern Writings

William Somerset Maugham is probably one of the most commercially successful but least critically appreciated writers of the twentieth century. If today he is remembered mostly for his 1915 masterpiece Of Human Bondage and a few other outstanding novels, back in his time readers looked upon him as the cantor of the decadence of the […]

Bilingual Education in Inner Mongolia: An Explainer

China today is in the midst of closing out a three-quarters of a century experiment. That experiment was in minority-language education for certain select ethnic groups: Mongols, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Kazakhs, and Koreans. A heritage of both China’s decentralised past and the Soviet model, minority-language education is now being replaced by a new model of ‘bilingual […]

The Spatial Cleansing of Xinjiang: Mazar Desecration in Context

Sometime between 10 and 17 March 2018, on a high sand dune 75 kilometres from the town of Niya, a beloved historical monument disappeared (Kuo 2019). For at least 450 years the site had drawn pilgrims from across the expanse of Altishahr, the southern half of what is now known variously as Eastern Turkistan or […]

The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt

A Conversation with Michael G. Vann

In The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empire, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press 2018), historian Michael G. Vann tells the darkly humorous story of how the French colonial state unsuccessfully attempted to impose its vision of modernity upon the colonial city of Hanoi, Vietnam, focussing on a long-forgotten episode that took […]

From Unorganised Street Protests to Organising Unions

The Birth of a New Trade Union Movement in Hong Kong

For several months in 2019, the world’s news media was front-paging the Hong Kong anti-extradition bill movement almost on a daily basis. However, towards the end of the year, with the street violence subsiding and the fierce battles at two universities ending in the defeat of the students and their supporters, the international media seemed […]

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