Tracing the Chinese Arc of Black Internationalist Feminism: An Archive Story

Ranging from the personal, political, and intellectual affinities between W.E.B. Du Bois and Mao Zedong to multiracial groups of muscular male revolutionaries on the front lines of the global charge against US imperialism, the iconographic and historiographical representations of Afro-Asian solidarity prioritise men’s internationalist activism and homosocial bonds, rarely question the long-normalised link of heteromasculinity […]

Black Nationalism and Maoism: Revisiting the Relationship

This essay deconstructs the high tide of encounter between China and African American liberation movements. While Chinese narratives in the 1960s promoted a linear vision of Black militancy that would join forces with the white working class, Black Power activists engaged with Maoism as a framework for a politics of racial nationalism that did not always aspire to interracial and anticapitalist coalition-building as its goal. As the project of Afro-Chinese solidarity lost political importance in the post-Mao era, state representatives and official channels within China no longer championed anti-racism to counter potential popular expressions of prejudice.

Broken Windows

I was leaving New York City’s Chinatown one day after fieldwork when a friend pointed to a subway entrance off Canal Street. ‘You’re writing about Black and Chinese stuff, right? This is a perfect example,’ they said as we descended into the station. ‘These Black men hold the emergency exit open for the Chinese aunties, […]

Testing Uncertainty: Chance, Play, and Humour as Pandemic Response

This essay explores different responses to experiences of uncertainty about PCR testing in China during the Covid-19 pandemic. We examine creative responses that were developed to manage unknown testing outcomes, durations, and environments. As a contribution to empirical work on experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic, our work centres on the management of uncertainty through chance, play, and humour.

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The Poison Kings: Markers of Mobility and Morality

This essay looks at the so-called poison kings—people who, knowingly or otherwise, became transmission vectors of Covid-19. We explore the history of the term and its relationship to the corona-shaped virus. The examples we bring demonstrate how the label was deployed mostly as a moral category during the Covid-19 pandemic, even though sometimes there were […]

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Red, Yellow, Green: Test, Test, Test

Shenzhen, the home city of Tencent and a global technology hub, has long been one step ahead of the rest of China in digital governance and control. In October 2022, the city’s Bao’an District—where one of the authors of this paper, Hailing, was living—witnessed a small-scale outbreak of Covid-19. In response, the district government announced […]

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‘They Want the Horse to Run but Without Providing Feed’

Labour Exploitation of Healthcare Workers in China

On 13 December 2022, the hashtag ‘Sudden Death of a First-Year Graduate Student on Duty at the West China Hospital of the Sichuan University’ (#华西研一学生在岗猝死#) on Sina Weibo triggered heated discussions about the welfare of healthcare workers in China. Chat logs and medical records circulating online indicated that 23-year-old student Chen Jiahui had tested positive […]

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Urban Villages, Grid Management, and the Contradictions of Capital

In November 2022, migrant labourers in Guangzhou’s urban villages protested en masse the lockdowns associated with China’s zero-Covid policy. While some critics in China and abroad described the mechanisms of population control in the zero-Covid policy as the ‘return’ of an all-encompassing state control akin to that of the Maoist period, this essay argues, rather, that the episode laid bare the social inequalities between migrant labourers and village landlords on which the global supply chains for the low-cost manufacturing of fast fashion depend.

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The Promethean Ant Forest

Alibaba’s App as a Financialising Environmental Tool

Ant Forest is a Chinese app developed by Alibaba that claims to leverage its technology to solve environmental problems within and beyond China. By financialising and gamifying individuals’ carbon footprints with scores and rewards, it allows users to participate in tree planting as they consume online. Through the frame of ‘environmentality’, this essay discusses how […]

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