Descending into Debt in Cambodia

Cambodia today is the site of one of the world’s largest microcredit sectors. While it is widely believed that the extension of microcredit to Cambodia’s poor should be cause for all-round celebration, this essay reveals disquieting evidence of a deeply problematic development intervention. Indebted to microcredit institutions, increasing numbers of Cambodia’s poor population have been forced to accept exploitative labour conditions in the garment and construction industry, driven to despair due to the loss of their land, and, in the worst cases, had no choice but to ‘sell’ themselves as bonded labour to brick kilns owners.

Queer History, Culture, and Activism in China: A Conversation with He Xiaopei

He Xiaopei is a leading queer feminist filmmaker, activist, and director of Pink Space (粉色空间), a Beijing-based NGO dedicated to promoting sexual rights and gender equality. Her films include The Lucky One (宠儿, 2012), Our Marriages: Lesbians Marry Gay Men (奇缘一生, 2013), Yvo and Chrissy (如此生活, 2017), and Playmates (玩伴, 2019). As one of China’s […]

Accidental Activists: The Resistance of the ‘709’ Wives

The crackdown of 9 July 2015 saw hundreds of lawyers and legal activists called in by the police or official lawyers’ associations for questioning. While many were released in a matter of hours or days, a number disappeared into China’s system of ‘residential surveillance in a designated location’. In this essay, Nicola Macbean details how the wives of these lawyers have coped with the detention of their husbands and how they have been experimenting with new forms of campaigning that draw strength from Chinese tradition.

The Plight of Sex Workers in China: From Criminalisation and Abuse to Activism

To this day, the Chinese Party-state perceives sex work as a violation of the human rights of women. Therefore, the Chinese authorities believe that sex workers need to be rescued and reeducated, and regularly subject them to periodic crackdowns and long spells of detention in ‘rehabilitation education centres’. In this essay, Tiantian Zheng highlights how policies of this kind have not only fuelled violence, exploitation, abuse, and health risks among Chinese sex workers, but have also had terrible consequences for public health in China.

Global Connections: Chinese Feminism, Tibet, and Xinjiang

While the Chinese feminist movement is good at making international connections and is characterised by an explicit concern for intersectionality, it generally overlooks how experiences of gender and ethnicity in China overlap in complex and often brutal ways. In this essay, Séagh Kehoe looks into the plight of women and ethnic minorities in the borderland areas of Tibet and Xinjiang, and argues for increased attention and social mobilisation from abroad to address these issues.

Does China Have a Feminist Movement from the Left?

The detention of the ‘Feminist Five’ in March 2015 and the subsequent international campaign to free them marked a watershed moment for contemporary feminist movements in China (Wang 2015; Li 2017; see also Ristivojević’s essay in this issue). While Chinese women joined global feminist movements as early as the turn of the twentieth century, when […]

Chinese Feminism as We Know It: Public Pedagogies of the Anglophone Media Space

Anglophone media have been reporting about women’s activism in China since the mid-1990s. While sympathetic media coverage of the public performances of young Chinese feminists in the early 2010s gradually built up popular knowledge, interest, and support among the global audience for grassroots feminist activism in China, the arrest of the ‘Feminist Five’ in 2015 brought forward a new set of narratives.

Anti-poverty Policies and Discourses of Blame in China

Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese authorities have promised to eradicate rural poverty in the country by 2020. Since it was first announced, this goal has entered the popular imagination, becoming a major engine of policy innovation. A new report prepared by a special group within the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on the occasion of its 2019 session offers an assessment of progress in poverty reduction, providing up-to-date targets and candidly discussing contradictions within the poverty alleviation strategy

Against Atrophy: Party Organisations in Private Firms

Since 2015, the Chinese Communist Party has stepped up its presence within the day-to-day activities of foreign companies operating in China. At the same time, Chinese private firms were facing a similar situation. In this essay, Jude Blanchette argues that the campaign to enlarge the reach of the Party into private companies cannot be separated from its much wider campaign to increase the Party’s governance over all institutions under its purview, in an attempt to arrest the organisational atrophy that accompanied the post-Mao economic reforms initiated in the late 1970s.

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