The Power of Place: A Conversation with Mark Frazier

Shanghai and Mumbai are leading centres of manufacturing and finance. In The Power of Place: Contentious Politics in Twentieth-Century Shanghai and Bombay (Cambridge University Press 2019), Mark Frazier adopts a comparative historical lens to chronicle the political biographies of these metropolises, reconstructing an impressive series of riots, strikes, and protests that shook the two cities […]

Disenfranchised: A Conversation with Joel Andreas

Work units (单位) and the ‘cradle-to-grave’ employment model that they represented have not escaped the general rejection of China’s Maoist past. Not only have they become symbols of inefficiency, but they have also been criticised for putting workers in a position of total dependence and therefore subjugation. In Disenfranchised: The Rise and Fall of Industrial […]

Trade Union Reform in China: An Assessment

When Xi Jinping formally launched China’s trade union reform initiative in November 2015, it was not exactly headline news (Workers’ Daily 2017). The announcement, couched in typically impenetrable Party-speak, appeared to be just another vaguely-worded commitment to the reform process. However, what China’s trade unions do and, just as importantly, do not do can have […]

Epidemic Control in China: A Conversation with Liu Shao-hua

Liu Shao-hua earned her PhD in Sociomedical Sciences and Anthropology at Columbia University, and is now a Research Fellow at the Institute of Ethnology at the Academia Sinica, Taiwan. Her research takes AIDS, drug use, leprosy, and environmental issues as a lens for analysing the nature and trajectories of contemporary social change and individual life […]

The Epidemiology of Sinophobia

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), numerous reports have described a rise in Sinophobia and anti-Asian racism around the world, with occurrences being reported in Australia (Young 2020), France (BBC 2020), Canada (Miller 2020), and many other countries (Rich 2020). This racism started online. Commentators zoomed in on single incidents—like a video of […]

Lest We Forget: The Missing Chinese Activists of 2019

With the year 2019 coming to an end, we bring to you the faces and stories of some of those labour and feminist activists currently under detention without trial in China. A considerably longer comprehensive list, including dozens who remain detained or unaccounted for, can be found on this website. These are just some of […]

Garbage as Value and Sorting as Labour in China’s New Waste Policy

On 1 July 2019, new rules went into effect forcing Shanghai residents and businesses to sort their garbage into four categories (wet, dry, hazardous, and recyclable) under the threat of fines and social credit penalties. An explosion of social media commentary ensued, some supportive but most cynical. The question ‘what kind of garbage are you?’ […]

Revolution and State Formation as Oasis Storytelling in Xinjiang

No one can say that the world is ignoring Xinjiang. In October, at the American Association of Christian Counselors, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo likened China’s treatment of over a million Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region to George Orwell’s 1984 (Reuters 2019). This was at the same time that the Trump White […]

Service for Influence? The Chinese Communist Party’s Negotiated Access to Private Enterprises

Among the many praises for the documentary American Factory, the filmmakers’ non-judgmental way of storytelling  is  a  major  point.  Their   determination not to villainise any individual  indeed  conveys a commendable commitment to humanity—in an age of polarisation when people are  used  to pointing  fingers  at others,  this  film is refreshing. This was supposedly also why […]

Tales of Hope, Tastes of Bitterness: a Conversation with Miriam Driessen

How is China’s success in Africa experienced by those who work on the Chinese-run construction sites that have emerged across the continent? In Tales of Hope, Tastes of Bitterness (Hong Kong University Press 2019), Miriam Driessen follows the lives of Chinese road builders in Ethiopia to reveal the friction of Chinese-led development on the ground. […]

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