Lockdown Sound Diaries

Podcasting and Affective Listening in the Shanghai Lockdown

In the spring of 2022, Shanghai came under a new Covid-19 lockdown. In that period, the city was filled with desperate cries from ordinary citizens and digitised loudspeaker noises. Paying attention to the everyday soundscape, this essay focuses on what I call ‘lockdown sound diaries’. By examining 49 podcast episodes released between 27 March and 16 April 2022, it highlights women’s voices and food as a medium to reconnect people, arguing that lockdown sound diaries serve as defiant gestures to record ordinary voices and make fun out of bitterness in a time of uncertainty.

Covid among Us: Viral Mobilities in Shenzhen’s Moral Geography

    The unity of our society is threatened by troublesome and restless minorities. 我们社会的团结遭到了一小撮滋扰生事、不安分守己的群体的威胁. — First example of how to use the expression ‘安分守己’ (‘remain in one’s proper sphere’) on the Baidu Chinese–English translation site (emphasis in the original)   A plumber was called to fix a toilet. It was a standard job, requiring […]

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 […]

Xi Jinping’s Third Road: A Response

I rarely disagree with my friend and colleague, the always insightful Ling Li, but I cannot go along with her most recent analysis of Party leadership and the succession issue (Li 2021). She suggests that Xi Jinping may reactivate the office of Chairman of the Party Central Committee at the twentieth Party Congress in 2022. […]

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 […]

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 […]

Orwell in the Chinese Classroom

This is the translation of a blog post published on 1 May 2019 by an anonymous Chinese student. For obvious reasons, we were unable to confirm the identity of the writer, but the account resonates with other testimonies from students at Peking University that appeared in the public record or which we have heard personally, […]

Rethinking the Cultural Politics of Globalisation: Where Do We Go from Here?

In the days following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union (EU) on 23 June 2016, the same questions appeared repeatedly in the newspaper headlines and media debates: ‘What now?’ ‘What do we do now?’ ‘Where do we go from here?’ These are the cries of people who suddenly find themselves in a confusing, uncertain […]

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