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The Surveillance Vaccine: Surveillance, Censorship, and the Body under Covid-19

One of my companions throughout the Covid-19 lockdown has been Gushi.FM (故事FM), a podcast that is an oral historical archive, a diverse digital memory bank with stories of poverty, exploitation, coming out of the closet, and much more. At its heart, Gushi.FM is about giving people a voice. The podcast’s coverage of Covid-19–related events began […]

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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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Asian Reservoirs: A Conversation with Frédéric Keck

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought the whole world to its knees. Yet, this coronavirus is only the latest in a number of zoonosis events originating in different parts of the globe, and especially within Asia, over the last 20 years. For this reason virologists commonly refer to places like China, Hong Kong, or Singapore as […]

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Gratitude: The Ideology of Sovereignty in Crisis

In the midst of the pandemic, expressions of gratitude are everywhere. The appreciation of frontline workers can be heard from the balcony singing of Northern Italy to the nightly applause across New York City rooftops. Even the wolves of my own state of Colorado seem to be contributing their evening howls (Gruenauer 2020). Meanwhile, mental […]

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From Africa to Saipan: What Happens When Chinese Construction Firms ‘Go Global’?

For the past several years, I have been deeply engaged with a case involving the exploitation of thousands of Chinese workers by Chinese construction firms on the island of Saipan—part of the United States Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). This essay explores the extent to which Professor Ching Kwan Lee’s findings and conclusions […]

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Strategic Resources and Chinese State Capital: A View from Laos

The claim at the heart of Ching Kwan Lee’s The Specter of Global China (2017) is that Chinese state capital differs from other forms of global private capital. But Lee acknowledges that ‘state capital’ is a complicated category—not all state-owned enterprises share similar connections to the state, and many private companies have robust ties to […]

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Varieties of Capital and Predistribution: The Foundations of Chinese Infrastructural Investment in the Caribbean

At a moment when many politicians and media outlets in the ‘West’ seem adamant to portray China as an antagonist to the United States eager to craft a less-than-capitalist new world order, Ching Kwan Lee’s The Specter of Global China (2017) offers a breath of fresh air. Lee’s meticulous investigation of the varieties of Chinese […]

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Variety of Capital? Chinese Multinational Corporations in Europe

How do we approach the internationalisation of Chinese capital? With US company expansion came Americanisation and Fordism; with Japanese internationalisation, Japanisation and transplantation. So does the geographical shift of Chinese multinational companies (MNCs)—often under state ownership—bring with it Sinification? The recent work of Ching Kwan Lee (2017), on Chinese companies in Zambia may offer some […]

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Covid-19 in China: From ‘Chernobyl Moment’ to Impetus for Nationalism

When Dr Li Wenliang died from Covid-19 on 7 February, the Chinese Internet saw an unprecedented outpouring of grief and anger. The universal mourning for the reprimanded doctor, who had warned his colleagues about a potentially infectious coronavirus in late December and had been silenced by authorities, was also an expression of the public anxiety […]

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Researching China Through Translation and Presentation

To present a research project as understandable, inoffensive, and interesting to people in the field involves both politics and artfulness. Researchers, the researched, and potential collaborators together constitute the politics of fieldwork, at the centre of which are ongoing processes to establish expectations of possible benefits or conflicts of interests. The multidimensional politics on the ground remind us to consciously and continually seek appropriate translation and presentation of our research and position while conducting fieldwork in China.

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