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.

Separated Again by a High Wall

On 20 March 2019, Wei Zhili, a labour activist and editor of the pro-labour social media group ‘New Generation’ (新生代), was arrested at his home in Guangzhou. Two of his coworkers, Yang Zhengjun and Ke Chengbing, have also gone missing. In the preceding months, Wei—or, as friends call him, ‘Xiaowei’—had been assisting workers with pneumoconiosis […]

Land Wars: A Conversation with Brian DeMare

The Maoist land reform campaigns were an integral element in the Chinese Communist Party’s rise and subsequent ability to maintain power. In Land Wars, Brian DeMare weaves together historical and narrative accounts, providing a detailed picture of how the land reforms shaped the lives of those involved, as well as communist rule in China. Nicholas […]

Domestic Archaeology

The Domestic Archaeology Project is the outcome of seven years of work, from 2009 to 2016. During this period, I undertook dozens of trips to the countryside—exploring the lives of those living in the rural hinterlands of the coast, inland areas, and the western provinces. In our contemporary era, characterised as it is by change […]

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