Imperial Gateway: A Conversation with Seiji Shirane

How does one write the history of an empire? One approach is to focus on plans made in a metropole and carried out by armies and colonial officials in nearby or distant locales. Another highlights struggles in those targeted locales carried out by people threatened by imperial actions. And yet another combines a top-down concern […]

Sky River: Promethean Dreams of Optimising the Atmosphere

In the summer of 2022, China’s Yangtze River Basin suffered a record-breaking drought and heatwave caused by anthropogenic climate change, which damaged crops, caused electricity shortages and industrial shutdowns, and led to scarcity in drinking water supplies. Of course, water paucity is not new to China, given that the country has 18.5 per cent of […]

Transtopia in the Sinophone Pacific: A Conversation with Howard Chiang

Howard Chiang’s Transtopia in the Sinophone Pacific (Columbia University Press, 2021) articulates a methodology that connects Sinophone Studies with transgender history. Specifically, Chiang argues for the need to ‘reorient the way transness and queerness are understood in the field of Asian studies’ (p. xii). Drawing on transnational archival materials and cultural artefacts, he demonstrates the […]

China’s Soft Power, Counter-Localisation, and the Role of Stateless Uyghurs in Turkey

[Some people are saying that they cannot contact their relatives in Xinjiang. They are demonstrating in front of our embassy. They also spread fake news on social media. Several Turkish Ministers of Parliament and the Vice-President of the World Uyghur Congress were also involved in endorsing this fake news. It seems it was an organised […]

Prometheus and the Fishpond

A Historical Account of Agricultural Systems and Eco-Political Power in the People’s Republic of China

Recent environmental projects of the Chinese state, including the preservation of ‘agricultural heritage’ and the promotion of ‘ecological civilisation’, are inspiring people from around the world. However, these endeavours are deeply embedded in two ideologies that foster technocratic and growth-oriented approaches to managing the natural environment: economic thinking and systems thinking. Meanwhile, the Chinese state’s very active involvement in these projects has increasingly served to limit the critical standpoint found among many proponents of ecological agriculture elsewhere. While state support for sustainability provides opportunities for much excellent scholarship and science, ecopolitics in China is also enhancing the power of an oppressive, technocratic state.

Praising a Dead Dictator: How US Officials’ Visits to Taiwan Wade into Complex Historical Debates

In August 2022, US Senator Marsha Blackburn travelled to Taiwan in what was the last of three visits by members of the US Congress during that month alone. The trip occurred soon after Nancy Pelosi had visited the island with a bipartisan delegation of other elected US officials in what was the first visit by […]

Poverty and Pacification: A Conversation with Dorothy J. Solinger

Dorothy J. Solinger’s latest book, Poverty and Pacification: The Chinese State Abandons the Old Working Class (Rowman & Littlefield, 2022), is dedicated to ‘all of those whose lives were wrenched’ in globalising China. Solinger is passionate about working people, including rural migrants and laid-off urban workers, as reflected in her decades-long commitment to activism and […]

Tiger, Tyrant, Bandit, Businessman: A Conversation with Brian DeMare

The rural county of Poyang in northern Jiangxi Province goes largely unmentioned in the annals of modern Chinese history. Yet records from the Public Security Bureau archive hold a treasure trove of data on the everyday interactions between locals and the law. Drawing on these largely overlooked resources, in Tiger, Tyrant, Bandit, Businessman: Echoes of Counterrevolution from New China (Stanford University Press, 2022), Brian DeMare follows four criminal cases that together uniquely illuminate the dawning years of the People’s Republic of China. 

Dear Jude: A Tribute to Jude Howell (1956–2022)

For people who study Chinese civil society, the work of Professor Jude Howell is a familiar staple. For many, it’s an inspiration. For those who had the great luck of knowing Jude, her kindness, good humour, and generosity were every bit as uplifting as her work. Through a fortuitous phone call from Professor Wang Ming, […]

Lest We Forget: The Missing Chinese Activists of 2021

Back in December 2019, we published a series of portraits of labour and feminist activists who disappeared into China’s legal system in what was a particularly brutal year for activism in China. At that time, a wave of arrests had just engulfed dozens of activists across several sectors and cities, and several of them were […]

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