U of Maryland position

Assistant Professor in Sinophone Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park

The School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Maryland, College Park, invites applications for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor in Sinophone Cinema and Media Studies beginning Fall 2022. The successful candidate will be jointly appointed in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and the Program in Cinema and Media Studies. Qualified candidates will demonstrate recognized potential for excellence in scholarship, as well as interest and experience in teaching a wide range of courses in Chinese language and literature, modern Chinese culture and intellectual history, and film history and theory. Native or near-native fluency in both Mandarin and English is required. PhD must be in hand at time of employment.

The successful candidate will be expected to teach four courses per year (two in East Asian Languages and Cultures and two in Cinema and Media Studies) and to contribute to interdisciplinary initiatives in SLLC and across the university. The School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures is committed to increasing the diversity of the campus community. Candidates should show a strong commitment to teaching and mentoring a diverse student population; candidates who have experience working with a diverse range of faculty, staff, and students and who can contribute to a climate of inclusivity are encouraged to identify their experiences in these areas. Individuals from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply.

For full consideration, applicants should submit: a cover letter, CV, a one-page statement of teaching philosophy plus a sample syllabus, a representative writing sample in English of no more than 20 pages, and the names and contact information for three references who may be contacted for confidential letters of recommendation. All materials must be uploaded to the University of Maryland web-based employment application (eTerp) system at https://ejobs.umd.edu by the application deadline of November 22, 2021. This search is contingent upon the availability of funds.

The University of Maryland, College Park, actively subscribes to a policy of equal employment opportunity, and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, and gender identity or expression. Minorities and women are encouraged to apply.

Posted by: Chanel A.Briscoe <chanel@umd.edu>

Information Fantasies review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Rui Kunze’s review of Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China, by Xiao Liu. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/information-fantasies/ . My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, our literary studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Information Fantasies
Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China

By Xiao Liu

Reviewed by Rui Kunze

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright October, 2021)

Xiao Liu, Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019. 318 pp. ISBN 978-1-5179-0274-2 (paper);
ISBN 978-1-5179-0273-5 (cloth).

With its changes and unrealized possibilities, 1980s China has lasting appeal to scholars. Pioneering works such as High Culture Fever: Politics, Aesthetics, and Ideology in Deng’s China (1996) by Wang Jing and Chinese Modernism in the Era of Reforms: Cultural Fever, Avant-Garde Fiction, and the New Chinese Cinema (1996) by Zhang Xudong have critically examined the aesthetics and intellectual history of this decade vis-à-vis political and social transformations. Among the growing scholarship that continues to explore the problems and potentials of this transitional decade, Xiao Liu’s Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China is one of the most ambitious works in methodology and scope. Combining the methods of media studies and cultural studies, this book charts “a landscape in which the high-end scientific studies in the areas of information and AI research interacted and intersected with the dissemination of scientific knowledge through popular science journals and with popular imaginations in fiction and films that reflected on the social consequences of new technologies” (32). Taking into account the multiplicity of epistemologies, technologies, intellectual ideas, and aesthetic practices in this decade of transformation, Liu’s book excavates abundant heretofore unexamined source materials and probes their connections, contradictions, and contentions, as well as implications for China’s later integration into global capitalism and its information systems. Continue reading

Weibo suspends 22 K-pop accounts

Source: BBC News (9/7/21)
Chinese social media site Weibo suspends 22 K-pop accounts
By Mark Savage, BBC music reporter

Park Ji-Min from the K-pop band BTS

GETTY IMAGE: Park Ji-Min from the K-pop band BTS. Fans of BTS star Jimin were among those who had their accounts banned

A group of K-pop fans in China have become the latest victims of a crackdown on celebrity culture.

Twenty-two fan accounts have been suspended by Chinese social media site Sina Weibo for what it called “irrational star-chasing behaviour”. They include fans of Korean pop band BTS who crowdfunded on the platform to customise an aeroplane for singer Park Ji-Min’s 26th birthday.

Weibo accused one fan account of “illegal fundraising” for the stunt.

In a statement, the company said it “firmly opposes such irrational star-chasing behaviour and will deal with it seriously”.

It also pledged to “purify” online discussions and “regulate community order” on its platform. Continue reading

SCMP China Internet Report 2021

Source: SCMP (8/31/21)
China Internet Report 2021

Following a period of rapid growth and innovation, the China internet sector has entered a new phase of development with both push and pull factors driving internet companies to evolve, including tightening regulations, an increasingly saturated domestic market with changing demographics, and geopolitical tensions.

The 4th edition of the China Internet Report looks at how these factors are influencing companies to look outside their established markets, pivot business models, focus on new customer segments, and adapt to shifting dynamics to remain competitive.


China seeks to ‘rectify chaos in the fan community’

Source: The Guardian (8/27/21)
China bans celebrity rankings in bid to ‘rectify chaos in the fan community’
Authorities increase regulation of fame and fan culture that they say will tackle online bullying and protect children
By Helen Davidson

Actress Zheng Shuang and her boyfriend Zhang Heng. China has cracked down on celebrity rankings in a bid to ‘clean up’ fan culture. Photograph: VCG/Getty Images

Chinese authorities have banned online lists ranking celebrities by popularity, as regulators continue a drive to “clean up” fame and fandom culture.

According to regulations published in state media, all existing lists that rank Chinese stars must also be removed from the internet.

Only lists that rank works such as songs, films and TV shows can be published but they must reduce the emphasis on likes and comments, and instead “increase the weight of indicators like work orientation and professional evaluation”.

In June the office of the central cyberspace affairs commission announced a two-month special operation targeting fanclub culture, known as fan quan, which it said negatively affected the mental health of children. Continue reading

Spies for hire

Source: NYT (8/26/21)
Spies for Hire: China’s New Breed of Hackers Blends Espionage and Entrepreneurship
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
The state security ministry is recruiting from a vast pool of private-sector hackers who often have their own agendas and sometimes use their access for commercial cybercrime, experts say.
By Paul Mozur and Chris Buckley

China has changed its tactics since cyberhacking responsibilities were transfered to the Ministry of State Security from the People’s Liberation Army. Credit…Alex Plavevski/EPA, via Shutterstock

China’s buzzy high-tech companies don’t usually recruit Cambodian speakers, so the job ads for three well-paid positions with those language skills stood out. The ad, seeking writers of research reports, was placed by an internet security start-up in China’s tropical island-province of Hainan.

That start-up was more than it seemed, according to American law enforcement. Hainan Xiandun Technology was part of a web of front companies controlled by China’s secretive state security ministry, according to a federal indictment from May. They hacked computers from the United States to Cambodia to Saudi Arabia, seeking sensitive government data as well as less-obvious spy stuff, like details of a New Jersey company’s fire-suppression system, according to prosecutors.

The accusations appear to reflect an increasingly aggressive campaign by Chinese government hackers and a pronounced shift in their tactics: China’s premier spy agency is increasingly reaching beyond its own ranks to recruit from a vast pool of private-sector talent. Continue reading

China peddles conspiracy theories (1)

The researcher Gilles Demaneuf has compiled a useful list of “Some basic errors commonly repeated in relation to Covid-19 origins.”

This is handy because even now, the media continue to perpetuate misunderstandings and misinformation on Covid origins, including those intentionally spread by the Chinese government as part of its efforts to deflect attention from its actions.

As for why misinformation continues, one supposes it has to do both with (a), the complexity of the issues and the science; and above all, (b), how we are living the aftermath of how major media outlets and some researchers (despite the absence of scientific evidence either way) went along with the Chinese government’s tabooing and blocking of the lab related hypotheses as “conspiracies,” — and are now scrambling to walk that back, and deflect questions about how they could possibly have succumbed: the media without factchecking themselves, and the scientists presuming to pronounce on science even without evidence.

The most stunning by far, is Danish food scientist Ben Embarek, back in February-March the chair of the defunct Chinese-select WHO scientific committee, who now says his committee’s condemnation of a lab leak possibility as “extremely unlikely” was forced on him and his colleagues by the Chinese authorities — and that, shamefully, they gave in. The full history of this major un-scientific/propaganda debacle of the 21st century remains to be written, by those investigating fake news and factchecking failures and propaganda victories, especially in the US and perhaps especially by those scholars in Science and Technology Studies, etc. who study science in social context.

But at least, as we all know, it soon came to an end, after more scientists stepped forward — and, the WHO director general himself stepped forward and reconfirmed the obvious, that the lab hypothesis remains possible and must be a continued focus — even as this now meets bitter obstruction from the Chinese government.

Magnus Fiskesjö <nf42@cornell.edu>

Manhua as Magazine

Source: Association for Chinese Animation Studies no. 10 (Aug. 19, 2021)
Manhua as Magazine: The Case of Shanghai Sketch
By John A. Crespi

Figure 1: The front cover of Shanghai Sketch no. 10

What exactly are manhua, otherwise known as Chinese “cartoons”? The word manhua is easy to trace. It is a cognate of the Japanese word manga, though the two-character compound was used on occasion in China from the Song dynasty, in reference to a bird rather than pictures. The art of manhua, however, is harder to pin down. One can, as some researchers have done, devise narratives of satirical, cartoonish pictures that stretch back through millennia of Chinese history, albeit with many missing links. Easier to pin down is a specific year, 1925, when the term manhua was applied to Feng Zikai’s neo-traditionalist ink paintings printed in the new literature journal Literature Weekly. But manhua clearly did not emerge at a single point in time. Rather, they developed out of the diverse imagery found in China’s, and primarily Shanghai’s, illustrated press, from lithographed Dianshizhai Pictorial  in the 1880s on through myriad popular illustrated journals, magazines, and tabloids produced during the first several decades of the 20th century. Among those materials one can certainly find print images that more or less match current understanding of manhua as “comics” or “cartoons.” But what we call manhua today are not necessarily manhua as imagined by readers nearly a century ago. Put another way, when we apply the current notion of manhua to the past, we risk losing a historicized sense of what those images meant and did in their own time.

My book Manhua Modernity: Chinese Culture and the Pictorial Turn argues that we can achieve a more historically informed perception of manhua by examining concrete instances of their symbiosis with the pictorial publications that originally hosted them. This short essay returns to that argument by walking through an example of what manhua meant and did in an entire issue of the eight-page weekly illustrated magazine Shanghai Sketch (1928-1930). What I hope to show is that in the case of Shanghai Sketchall the images—whether reproduced from photographs or line drawings—were, in a sense, manhua. And all of them, whatever the subject matter, can only be fully understood when viewed as elements of a carefully crafted visual journey through an issue of a magazine designed to appeal to and construct a certain kind of reader. Manhua, as we shall see, were not just discrete comics or cartoons; in the case of Shanghai Sketchmanhua referred to the practice of deploying images and text together in the construction of the pictorial magazine. Continue reading

How factory workers express their views

Source: The Economist (8/14/31)
How Chinese factory-workers express their views on life
Poems, videos and fashion all speak to migrants’ alienation
By Stephanie Studer


As trendsetters go, Luo Fuxing was an implausible one. A school drop-out, Mr Luo spent his days catching fish and herding goats in a village in southern Guangdong province. Eating pork was a once-weekly treat. At the age of 14, he left home to earn a wage in the province’s sweatshops. He hated the tedium of the work. He read that American criminals had tattoos of spiders’ webs inked onto their elbows to show time spent behind bars. Mr Luo got one too, because “the factory was just a bigger prison.”

He quit for a job in a hair salon. Inspired by Japanese manga and punk fashion, he dyed his hair and styled it into dramatic, gravity-defying spikes. Dark lipstick and eyeliner completed the look. He posted selfies to qq, a messaging service—and soon hundreds of thousands of factory-town youth were copying his style. Mr Luo called its adopters the shamate, from a Chinese rendering of “smart”. It was “a wild-growing art form among workers”, he says. The trend, which peaked around a decade ago, helped newly arrived migrants from the countryside to bond. They met in parks, roller-skating rinks and online groups, where they shared not just sartorial cues but gripes about migrant life, from low pay and poor conditions to divorcing parents…. [you must register to read the whole article on The Economist website]

Rescuing China’s muzzled past

Source: NYT (7/25/21)
Rescuing China’s Muzzled Past, One Footnote at a Time
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
In a two-volume tome, the independent historian Yu Ruxin explains the crucial role of the military in Mao’s stormy Cultural Revolution.
By Chris Buckely

The historian Yu Ruxin, in Hong Kong in May. His book, “Through the Storm,” sheds new light on the central role of the military during the Cultural Revolution. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

For decades, Yu Ruxin, a businessman turned independent historian, scoured used book stalls across China for frayed, yellowing documents about the Cultural Revolution, a decade of mass political upheaval unleashed by Mao Zedong.

The fruit of his long quest was published in Hong Kong this month, a 1,354-page history that sheds new light on the central role of the military during the Cultural Revolution. The People’s Liberation Army is widely known to have been called in to impose order, but Mr. Yu also documents in meticulous detail how the military was also involved in purges and political persecution.

“Through the Storm,” a two-volume Chinese-language book buttressed with 2,421 footnotes, stands out all the more these days, when the Chinese authorities are determined to erase the darkest chapters of the party’s history.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, this month celebrated 100 years since the founding of the country’s Communist Party. The centenary has skipped over the political upheavals and mass suffering that characterized the party’s earlier decades in power. Continue reading

Foreign journalists harassed over floods coverage

Source: The Guardian (7/26/21)
Foreign journalists harassed in China over floods coverage
Reporters confronted in street and accused of ‘smearing China’ amid increasing sensitivity to any negative portrayals of China
By  in Taipei @heldavidson

People wade across a flooded street in the city of Zhengzhou in China’s Henan province.

People wade across a flooded street in the city of Zhengzhou in China’s Henan province. The official death toll from the floods is at least 63, with five missing, but Chinese media have identified at least 22 people who have not been heard from since Tuesday afternoon. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Foreign journalists reporting on the aftermath of China’s flooding disaster have faced hostile confrontations in the street and been subjected to “vicious campaigns”, amid increasing nationalistic sensitivity to any negative portrayals of China.

Reporters from the Los Angeles Times and German outlet Deutsche Welle were confronted by an angry crowd in Zhengzhou on Saturday, who filmed and questioned them, and accused them of “rumour mongering” and slandering China. Other journalists have also been targeted, with a specific focus on the BBC.

The journalists Alice Su and Mathias Boelinger, were on the ground in Zhengzhou, covering the aftermath of last week’s deadly floods, after almost a year’s worth of rain dropped around Zhengzhou in three days, overwhelming streets and subway tunnels. The rains then moved north, further devastating major cities and rural areas. Continue reading

Seeking China’s new narratives

Source: China Media Project (7/16/21)
Seeking China’s New Narratives
The views put forth by a range of Chinese scholars at a recent discussion forum in Beijing hosted by the Center on China and Globalization offer a glimpse into strategic discussions of public diplomacy and propaganda in the country’s think-tank sector.
By David Bandurski

Wang Guiyao, the founder of the Center for China and Globalization, appears at the Munich Security Conference in 2019. Image Press / MSC available under CC license at Wikimedia Commons.

Earlier this week, the Center for China and Globalization (全球化智库), which has advertised itself as a “leading non-governmental think-tank in China,” held an event in Beijing to discuss “new narratives on China” (中国新叙事), and to launch a new book on external communication called I Talk About China to the World (我向世界说中国). A summary of the event released by CCG through its official WeChat public account provides an interesting glimpse into discussions in China’s think-tank sector on what Xi Jinping has called “telling China’s story well.”

The Center for China and Globalization, often referred to as “CCG,” was founded in Beijing in 2008 by Wang Huiyao (王辉耀), an economist and State Council advisor who is currently the organization’s president, and Mabel Miao (苗绿), the current vice-president and secretary-general. They are the authors of the new CCG book, which deals with the question of “how to create new narrative methods and models” (如何打造新的叙事方式和模式) for China. Continue reading

Jin Xing, transgender star

Source: NYT (7/16/21)
She’s One of China’s Biggest Stars. She’s Also Transgender.
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
Jin Xing, the first person in China to openly undergo transition surgery, is a household name. But she says she’s no standard-bearer for the L.G.B.T.Q. community.
By Vivian Wang and Joy Dong

“Stick whatever label on me, male or female, I’m still a very luminous person,” says Jin Xing, a well-known Chinese television personality. Credit…Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

Jin Xing, a 53-year-old television host often called China’s Oprah Winfrey, holds strong views about what it means to be a woman. She has hounded female guests to hurry up and get married, and she has pressed others to give birth. When it comes to men, she has recommended that women act helpless to get their way.

That might not be so unusual in China, where traditional gender norms are still deeply embedded, especially among older people. Except Ms. Jin is no typical Chinese star.

As China’s first — and even today, only — major transgender celebrity, Ms. Jin is in many ways regarded as a progressive icon. She underwent transition surgery in 1995, the first person in the country to do so openly. She went on to host one of China’s most popular talk shows, even as stigmas against L.G.B.T.Q. people remained — and still remain — widespread.

China’s best-known personalities appeared on her program, “The Jin Xing Show.” Brad Pitt once bumbled through some Mandarin with her to promote a film. Continue reading

China’s bitter youths embrace Mao

Source: NYT (7/8/21)
‘Who Are Our Enemies?’ China’s Bitter Youths Embrace Mao.
The chairman’s call for struggle and violence against capitalists is winning over a new audience of young people frustrated with long work hours and dwindling opportunities.
By Li Yuan

Credit…Xinmei Liu

They read him in libraries and on subways. They organized online book clubs devoted to his works. They uploaded hours of audio and video, spreading the gospel of his revolutionary thinking.

Chairman Mao is making a comeback among China’s Generation Z. The Communist Party’s supreme leader, whose decades of nonstop political campaigns cost millions of lives, is inspiring and comforting disaffected people born long after his death in 1976. To them, Mao Zedong is a hero who speaks to their despair as struggling nobodies.

In a modern China grappling with widening social inequality, Mao’s words provide justification for the anger many young people feel toward a business class they see as exploitative. They want to follow in his footsteps and change Chinese society — and some have even talked about violence against the capitalist class if necessary.

The Mao fad lays bare the paradoxical reality facing the party, which celebrated the centenary of its founding last week. Under President Xi Jinping, the party has made itself central to nearly every aspect of Chinese life. It claims credit for the economic progress the country has made and tells the Chinese people to be grateful. Continue reading

The man behind China’s aggressive new voice

Source: NYT (7/7/21)
The Man Behind China’s Aggressive New Voice
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
How one bureaucrat, armed with just a Twitter account, remade Beijing’s diplomacy for a nationalistic era.
By Alex W. Palmer

Credit…Illustration by Olivier Bonhomme

On the morning of Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison was working from his official residence when an aide alerted him to a tweet by a Chinese foreign-ministry spokesman. Morrison was about to finish a two-week quarantine after returning from a brief diplomatic visit to Japan, and he had spent most of the morning on the phone with Australian wine exporters, discussing Chinese tariffs that had just taken effect — some as high as 212 percent — the latest in an escalating string of punitive economic measures imposed on Australia by Beijing.

But the tweet, posted by a diplomat named Zhao Lijian, represented a different kind of aggression. “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers,” he wrote. “We strongly condemn such acts, & call for holding them accountable.” Attached was a digital illustration of an Australian soldier restraining an Afghan child with a large Australian flag while preparing to slit the boy’s throat. “Don’t be afraid,” the caption read, “we are coming to bring you peace!” When the tweet appeared online that morning, there were audible gasps in Australia’s Parliament House.

Earlier that month, the inspector general of the Australian Defense Force had released the results of a four-year investigation into alleged war crimes committed by elite Australian troops in Afghanistan. The investigation, which described a systemic culture of brutality and lawlessness, implicated 25 soldiers in the unlawful killing of 39 civilians and prisoners, with most of the incidents taking place in 2012. The report dominated news headlines for weeks and sparked a torturous national reckoning in Australia. To then see the country’s most grievous sins — already documented by its own government — weaponized in a sarcastic tweet from a foreign official was an almost incomprehensible insult. “I don’t think you could imagine a communication that could’ve been more perfectly shaped to be inflammatory in Australia, and so perfectly insensitive,” a former senior Australian government official said. Continue reading