Fear in the Classroom

How Hong Kong’s National Security Law Suppresses Academic and Intellectual Freedom

On 30 June 2020, the Hong Kong Government announced that the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) would come into effect before the public had even laid eyes on its content. Since the law is broad and, some argue, purposely vague, it grants the Hong Kong and Chinese governments extrajudicial authority to criminalise dissenting voices […]

Red Silk: A Conversation with Robert Cliver

In Red Silk: Class, Gender, and Revolution in China’s Yangzi Delta Silk Industry (Harvard University Press 2020), Robert Cliver reconstructs the history of Chinese silk production in the Yangzi River Delta during the wars, crises, and revolutions of the twentieth century. Based on extensive research in Chinese archives and focussed on the 1950s, the book […]

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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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Breathing What Air? Reflections on Mongolia Before and After Covid-19

The rush of government responses to curb the spread of Covid-19 throughout different parts of the world has highlighted existing inequalities in stark terms, as well as facilitating the emergence of new ones. In urban areas, lockdowns, while very much effective in reducing the spread of the virus, have formed a rapid, unprecedented, and unforeseen […]

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Sinophobia Will Never Be the Same after Covid-19

Just hours before I started writing this article, US President Donald Trump hit the headlines again for calling Covid-19 ‘the Chinese virus’ and ‘Kung-flu’ at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma (The Guardian 2020). He has been using such racially codified terms in public appearances and on Twitter since March, right after Covid-19 became much […]

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Shamanism, Occult Murder, and Political Assassination in Siberia and Beyond

This essay examines the revival of shamanism in a Siberian city and analyses the political dimensions of rituals for reversing the effects of sorcery assault. Drawing on fieldwork exploring an epidemic of occult violence in Kyzyl, Tyva Republic, the essay identifies a new type of shamanic detective and entrepreneur, whose techniques of counter-cursing cut across the state’s operations of security and justice.

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Shared Visions: The Gift of The Eye

Organ transplantation as discussed in the occult economies literature is associated with illicit activities and uncanny circumstances, and is fuelled by socioeconomic disparity. Discussing corneal transplantation as depicted in the Hong Kong–Thai film The Eye, this essay reflects on the symbolic and affective aspects of gifting the organ that helps us to mediate the world and which is associated with personal identity. It argues that through the genre of horror, cultural meanings of corneal transplantation are heightened that include the notion of tethering individuals through premonitory visions. In its portrayal of corneal donation and reciprocity, The Eye offers a warning about predictive knowledge.

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Hunting Sorcerers in Cambodia

Over the past decade, Cambodia has seen dozens of witchcraft-related cases in which people were harassed or even killed because their neighbours suspected them of engaging in black magic. Through interviews with survivors and family members of the victims, this essay traces some of these cases and argues that such occurrences are linked not only to poverty and exclusion, but also to a more fundamental collision between two worlds.

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Accidents and Agency: Death and Occult Economies in Thailand

With new economic regimes, new infrastructure, and increased ‘development’ also come new religious movements. Whereas earlier scholars assumed that modernity would disenchant, this has, time and again, proven not to be the case. But why? While one popular explanation—the ‘occult economy’—attributes this increasing (de-centred) religiosity to the vicissitudes of new economic regimes, this essay interprets it as an acknowledgement of a shared world in flux, with humans and nonhumans alike struggling to come to terms with what existing in a changed present might mean.

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On UFOlogy with Chinese Characteristics and the Fate of Chinese Socialism

‘UFO research must have Chinese characteristics.’ Liu Dongjun, 1999 ‘The navigation system of flying saucers is the Taiji compass.’ Jiang Yongqiang, 1995 ‘UFOs to the people!’ Ufologia radicale, 1998 What happened to Chinese socialism? This question was most recently asked in connection with this journal in the volume Afterlives of Chinese Communism (2019), along with […]

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