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Reining in Rogue Legislation

An Overview of China’s Invigoration of the ‘Recording and Review’ Process

During the 1980s and 1990s, the Chinese Government created two forms of administrative detention to combat perceived social ills. The first, ‘custody and repatriation’ (C&R, 收容遣送), was used ‘as a coercive measure to manage the flow of migrant workers and undesirables into China’s urban centers’ (Hand 2006: 120). The other, known as ‘custody and education’ […]

Industrial Things in a Post-Industrial Society

The Life and Afterlife of a Chinese Glass-Forming Machine

This essay considers the emergence of post-industrial China through an examination of the ‘social’ and ‘antisocial’ lives of an industrial glass-forming machine. By reviewing the process through which glass-forming technology developed in China, the closure of industrial glass manufacturing in Shanghai, and the adoption of an abandoned glass-forming machine by the Shanghai Museum of Glass, the essay reflects on the ways in which one formerly industrial district has begun to negotiate its multiple and sometimes conflicting identities.

Everyday Necro-Capitalism

One of the perks of being the son of an Italian railway worker is that, when I was younger, I could hop on and off any train I wanted without having to buy a ticket. Those were the days before high-speed trains, when Italy’s rail network mostly comprised ‘regional’ and ‘interregional’ trains, which moved very […]

Revolution Offshore, Capitalism Onshore

Ships and the Changing Relationship between China and the World

This essay tells a backstory of the Belt and Road Initiative by tracing the voyages of the Minghua and two other ships managed by the China Ocean Shipping Bureau—both as mobile vessels at sea and as a permanent presence on land. When mobile at sea in the Mao period, these ships functioned as vessels not only for passengers and commodities, but also for Maoist ideology. The Minghua’s retirement to Shenzhen then coincided with China’s transition from the Mao to the Deng era. Having bid farewell to the sea, the ship became part of the city’s landscape and was turned into a dynamic experiment field for the market economy and a medium through which ideas travel and identities shift

The Work of Culture

Of Barons, Dark Academia, and the Corruption of Language in the Neoliberal University

There was a time when academia was society’s refuge for the eccentric, brilliant, and impractical. No longer. It is now the domain of professional self-marketers. As for the eccentric, brilliant, and impractical: it would seem society now has no place for them at all. — David Graeber (2015: 134–35)   Much has been written in […]

(Self-)Censorship and Chinese Feminist Networking in a Global Perspective

In this essay, I will examine the relationship between the Chinese feminist movement and self-censorship in its temporal and spatial dimensions. Temporally, my analysis will take into account the period from 1989 up to the time of writing in July 2020. This temporal frame covers the Chinese political vicissitudes from the Tiananmen Square Incident of […]

Inciting Subversion by Association: 120 Days in Detention

On 16 February 2020, just a few hours after her partner Xu Zhiyong, a leading Chinese human rights lawyer, was detained, women’s rights and labour activist Li Qiaochu went missing. China’s state security bodies would hold her incommunicado for four months under the system known as ‘residential surveillance at a designated location’ on suspicion of […]

Bilingual Education in Inner Mongolia: An Explainer

China today is in the midst of closing out a three-quarters of a century experiment. That experiment was in minority-language education for certain select ethnic groups: Mongols, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Kazakhs, and Koreans. A heritage of both China’s decentralised past and the Soviet model, minority-language education is now being replaced by a new model of ‘bilingual […]

Living Politics: An Exhibition

This Exhibition was part of the Australian Research Council Laureate Project ‘Informal Life Politics in the Remaking of Northeast Asia: From Cold War to Post-Cold War’. As major political changes reshape East Asia, groups of ordinary people across the region have been developing alternative, self-help ways to address the profound social, economic, and environmental challenges […]

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