On the Edge: A Conversation with Margaret Hillenbrand

In On the Edge: Feeling Precarious in China (Columbia University Press, 2023), Margaret Hillenbrand probes precarity in contemporary China through the lens of the dark and angry cultural forms that chronic uncertainty has generated. She argues that a vast underclass of Chinese workers exist in a state of ‘zombie citizenship’—a condition of dehumanising exile from […]

Surveillance State: A Conversation with Josh Chin

In their new book, Surveillance State: Inside China’s Quest to Launch a New Era of Social Control (St Martin’s Publishing Group, 2022), investigative reporters Josh Chin and Liza Lin examine the emergence of automation-assisted digital surveillance in China and in spaces of Chinese development around the world. Drawing from reporting done in Xinjiang, eastern China, […]

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The Left in China: A Conversation with Ralf Ruckus

In The Left in China: A Political Cartography (Pluto Press, 2023), Ralf Ruckus traces the fascinating history of left-wing, subversive, and oppositional forces in China over the past 70 years. He looks at the interconnected movements since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, drawing out the main actors, ideas, and actions. […]

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Digital Masquerade: A Conversation with Jia Tan

Jia Tan’s Digital Masquerade: Feminist Rights and Queer Media in China (NYU Press, 2023) interrogates the intersections across digital media of feminist rights activism, queer culture, and neoliberalism in an illiberal context. Drawing on a wide range of artefacts—interviews with feminist advocates and queer media practitioners, participant-observations at queer community events, and cultural analysis of […]

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Clean Air at What Cost? A Conversation with Denise van der Kamp

China’s green transition is often perceived as a lesson in authoritarian efficiency. In a mere few years, the state managed to improve air quality drastically without apparent resistance from the market. In Clean Air at What Cost? The Rise of Blunt Force Regulation in China (Cambridge University Press, 2023), Denise van der Kamp explains how […]

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A Conversation about Futurity, Critique, and Political Imagination

This discussion is a dialogue about changes in how we, and others, have approached China and futurity. It has two movements: 1) A Conversation about Futures Past, and 2) Five Propositions on the Future Perfect. We begin with a conversation about some of the scholarly and popular discourses that framed our understandings of China and […]

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Reproductive Realities in Modern China: A Conversation with Sarah Mellors Rodriguez

While China’s reproductive policies have long been studied as a mechanism of biopolitical control, the everyday reproductive experiences of Chinese people are often eclipsed. Spanning more than a century, Sarah Mellors Rodriguez’s important monograph Reproductive Realities in Modern China: Birth Control and Abortion, 1911–2021 (Cambridge University Press, 2023) fills this gap by examining how Chinese […]

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Foreign Banks and Global Finance in Modern China A Conversation with Ghassan Moazzin

Ghassan Moazzin’s Foreign Banks and Global Finance in Modern China: Banking on the Chinese Frontier, 1870–1919 (Cambridge University Press, 2022) is a scrupulously researched and riveting story about the Deutsch-Asiatische Bank (DAB), a German bank that was active in China between 1890 and World War I. The DAB rose to become the peer of the […]

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Dreadful Desires: A Conversation with Charlie Yi Zhang

In his new book, Dreadful Desires: The Uses of Love in Neoliberal China (Duke University Press, 2022), Charlie Yi Zhang explores how the Chinese State mobilises love to regulate the affective economy and life choices of its population. Affective notions of love, Zhang demonstrates, are constructed in a way that bolsters nationalism, heteronormativity, and neoliberalism—forces […]

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The Opium Business: A Conversation with Peter Thilly

Peter Thilly’s new book, The Opium Business: A History of Crime and Capitalism in Maritime China (Stanford University Press, 2022), focuses on the nitty-gritty of the opium trade in Fujian Province from the 1830s to 1938. Its main goal is to shift our attention from the still-prevalent overarching narratives of national humiliation and anti-imperialist moralism […]

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