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Revisiting Minjian Intellectuals A Conversation with Sebastian Veg

In the past few months, I collaborated with Xu Xibai, a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford, to translate into Chinese Sebastian Veg’s groundbreaking book Minjian: The Rise of China’s Grassroots Intellectuals (Columbia University Press, 2019). We embarked on this project with the conviction that this translation will not only inspire debate on the […]

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Beijing from Below: A Conversation with Harriet Evans

In her new book, Beijing from Below: Stories of Marginal Lives in the Capital’s Center (Duke University Press, 2020), Harriet Evans captures the last gasps of subaltern life in Dashalar, one of Beijing’s poorest neighbourhoods. Between the early 1950s and the accelerated demolition and construction of Beijing’s ‘old city’ in preparation for the 2008 Olympic […]

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A Tribute to Daniel Kane

I first met Daniel Kane, or Danny as he was known to friends, during a week-long symposium on Manchu culture and literature that took place inside a grand country house in South Wairarapa, New Zealand, in 2018. The purpose of that gathering was to discuss the acquisition of Chinese language, thought, and art by the […]

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Securing China’s Northwest Frontier: A Conversation with David Tobin

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Over the past two decades, a rhetoric of terrorism has been used to conflate the criminal actions of a relatively small number of people with the religious and cultural practices of more than 12 million Uyghurs who call the southern part of the Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang) their ancestral home. This has had a dramatic […]

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The Children of China’s Great Migration: A Conversation with Rachel Murphy

In recent decades, China has witnessed the largest movement of people in world history, with hundreds of millions of rural migrants floating between the cities where they work and the countryside where they make their homes. This has had dramatic implications for family life in rural China, and in the 2010s more than 61 million […]

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Workers and Change in China: A Conversation with Manfred Elfstrom

In his new book, Workers and Change in China: Resistance, Repression, Responsiveness (Cambridge University Press, 2021), Manfred Elfstrom delves into the paradox that sees the Chinese Party-State addressing workers’ grievances while coming down increasingly hard on civil society groups and individual activists promoting labour rights. Examining both the causes and the consequences of protest through […]

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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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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 […]

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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 […]

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