Blossoms Shanghai as a tale of two cities

Source: ThinkChina (3/1/24)
Between Shanghai and Hong Kong: Blossoms Shanghai as a tale of two cities
By Ying Zhu, Professor, Academy of Film, Hong Kong Baptist University

Academic Ying Zhu observes that in Blossoms Shanghai directed by Wong Kar-wai, Shanghai is vivid, vibrant and evocative of both the glamour of a colonial Hong Kong and the hustle and bustle of a gilded age Shanghai. The TV drama speaks of the historical relationship between the two cities, and when the bright lights have dimmed, the ruins of the spectacle and the broken dreams. If geopolitical reshuffling in recent years has diminished Hong Kong’s lustre as a first-tier global city and the link between China and the rest of the world, what does the future have in store for Shanghai?

A publicity poster for Blossoms Shanghai starring Hu Ge. (Internet)

A publicity poster for Blossoms Shanghai starring Hu Ge. (Internet)

Blossoms Shanghai (《繁花》), the 30-episode TV drama, captures in a prosaic fashion life in the fast lane of A Bao, a dashing Shanghai man with a can-do spirit who accumulates dazzling wealth during Shanghai’s boom times. Market speculation and import-export manipulation were shortcuts to getting rich, and Bao is dexterous at both. Blossoms Shanghai captures a moment of Shanghai in golden glory and a state of euphoria.

The impressionistic and stylised images of Shanghai in Blossoms Shanghai attests to the director Wong Kar-wai’s abiding yearning for Shanghai, the city of his birth. Blossoms Shanghai also carries a torch for Hong Kong, with the drama bearing imprints of Wong’s adoptive city, from his generous appropriation of Hong Kong pop for soundtracks to his actual plot linking Hong Kong to Shanghai of the 1990s. The Shanghai in Wong’s cinematic imagination is vivid, vibrant and evocative of both the glamour of a colonial Hong Kong and the hustle and bustle of a gilded age Shanghai. Continue reading

CLT2 5.3-4

Chinese Literature and Thought Today vol. 5, no. 3-4
Free access period in March 2024!

The latest double issue of CLTT features a memorial for Professor Yingjin Zhang (1957-2022) guest-edited by Géraldine Fiss, Zhang’s colleague in the Department of Literature at UC San Diego, with contributions from Zhang’s teacher, classmate, friends, colleagues, collaborators, and students that outline Professor Zhang’s numerous accomplishments and contributions as well as his remarkable persona.

This issue also includes critical essays by Cheng Li, Yuemin He, Yawen Li, and She Shiqin, plus a group of short philosophy digest essays and four poems by Mingwei Song. Please take advantage of free access during March to read and download the rich contents in this new double issue!

Colgate position

Colgate University VAP Chinese Language, Literature, and Culture

The Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures invites applications for a one-year visiting assistant professor position in Chinese, beginning fall seme­­­ster 2024. A Ph.D. is required prior to or shortly after date of hire. Native or near native command of both Chinese and English is required. The area of specialization is open. The successful candidate will be prepared to teach Chinese language courses at all levels, a course in the Liberal Arts Core Curriculum, and may be invited to teach a course in Chinese literature and culture. The teaching load is the equivalent of five courses for the year.

For more information and to apply to the position, please see the full job ad with link to Interfolio. If you have any questions feel free to contact the search chair John A. Crespi,

Murder and magic realism

Source: NYT (3/1/24)
Murder and Magic Realism: A Rising Literary Star Mines China’s Rust Belt
In gritty tales from China’s northeast, Shuang Xuetao chronicles a traumatic chapter of Chinese history with fresh resonance today: the mass layoffs that afflicted the region in the 1990s.

A bespectacled Shuang Xuetao reading in a comfortable chair by large windows. He’s reclining, with his feet, clad in sneakers, resting on a footstool.

Shuang Xuetao, one of China’s most celebrated young authors, is best known for his short stories chronicling the economic decline of his hometown, Shenyang, in the country’s northeast. Credit…Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times

For a long time during Shuang Xuetao’s early teenage years, he wondered what hidden disaster had befallen his family.

His parents, proud workers at a tractor factory in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang, stopped going to work, and the family moved into an empty factory storage room to save money on rent.

But they rarely talked about what had happened, and Mr. Shuang worried that some special shame had struck his family alone.

It was not until later that he learned about the mass layoffs that swept northeastern China in the 1990s, during the country’s shift from a planned economy toward a market-based one. The region had been China’s industrial heartland, but suddenly millions of laborers were left unemployed. Crime and poverty rose. Even today, the region, sometimes called China’s Rust Belt, has not fully recovered.

The legacy of that communal suffering animates the writing of Mr. Shuang, now 40 and one of China’s most celebrated young authors. For his short stories chronicling the economic decline of his hometown, and the mass disillusionment that followed, he has been hailed for bringing attention to a time and people that China’s public imagination had long written off.

His stories also dwell on individuals’ isolation within that collective experience. His characters disappear from their neighbors’ lives without saying goodbye or, in one of his trademark magical realist twists, they trek through the northeast’s heavy blizzards and find themselves in a cell at the bottom of a lake. Continue reading

Techno-Futures symposium

Symposium Announcement
Techno-Futures: Collaborations in Performance, Technology, and Creative Scholarship
March 7-9, 2024
University of Maryland (in person and online)

A weekend of events investigating new horizons in the application of technology in performance through the work of Asian diasporic artists, scholars and artists who study or create work in East Asia, and UMD graduate students who research the intersections of performance and technology. Co-organized by Jyana Browne (UMD), Tarryn Chun (University of Notre Dame), and Van Tran Nguyen (UMD).

Events include a film festival showcasing works by Asian diasporic artists, graduate student research and creative works, and an international symposium, artists talks, and an artist roundtable. The symposium, “Technology in Contemporary East Asian Performance,”  focuses on critical studies of recent works of theater and performance from Japan, South Korea, the PRC, and Taiwan that employ technologies such as virtual and extended reality, online platforms, vocaloids, holograms, and drones. Keynote addresses by Rossella Ferrari (University of Vienna) and Suk-Young Kim (UCLA). The artist talks and an artist roundtable offer a view of technology and performance from the perspective of working artists. All events open to the public and symposium proceedings will be live streamed via Zoom.

Advance registration required. Please visit for more information, schedule, and registration.

Posted by: Tarryn Chun <>

China has thousands of Navalnys hidden from the public

Source: NYT (2/29/24)
China Has Thousands of Navalnys, Hidden From the Public
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
China has no dissident with the kind of public profile that Aleksei A. Navalny had. The government has many critics, but they all disappear from view.
By Li Yuan

People at night standing along a tall iron fence outside a building with barred windows. Some are holding a large photo of Aleksei A. Navalny.

Outside the Russian Embassy in Warsaw on Feb. 16, the day Aleksei Navalny died in prison. Credit…Sergei Gapon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

After watching “Navalny,” the documentary about the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, a Chinese businesswoman messaged me, “Ren Zhiqiang is China’s Navalny.” She was talking about the retired real estate tycoon who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for criticizing China’s leader, Xi Jinping.

After Mr. Navalny’s tragic death this month, a young dissident living in Berlin posted on X, “Teacher Li is closest to the Chinese version of Navalny.” He was referring to the rebel influencer known as Teacher Li, who used social media to share information about protests in China and who now fears for his life.

There are others: Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who died in government custody in 2017, and Xu Zhiyong, the legal scholar who is serving 14 years in prison on charges of subversion.

The sad fact is that there’s no Chinese equivalent of Mr. Navalny because there’s no opposition party in China, and therefore no opposition leader.

It’s not for lack of trying. Many courageous Chinese stood up to the most powerful authoritarian government in the world. Since 2000, the nonprofit humanitarian organization Duihua has recorded the cases of 48,699 political prisoners in China, with 7,371 now in custody. None of them has the type of name recognition among the Chinese public that Mr. Navalny did in Russia. Continue reading

30 years of the internet, part II

Thirty Years of the Internet in China: A Retrospective (Part II)
SAT-SUN, March 2-3, 2024
Virtual Event, Open to the Public

Jointly organized by Center on Digital Culture and Society and Center for the Study of Contemporary China, University of Pennsylvania. REGISTER HERE


March 2, 8:00-10:15pm ET

  • Matt Debutts and Jennifer Pan (Stanford University), “China’s Internet Controls: What If Citizens Disengage?”
  • Jack Qiu (Nanyang Technological University), “The Constants of Chinese Internet Research”
  • Yunya Song (Hong Kong Baptist University), “Gender and the Internet in China: A Historical Perspective”
  • Wei Wang (Zhejiang University), “The Reinvention of ‘Locality,’: Imagining Local Society with Local Media”
  • Jian Xu (Deakin University), “From ‘Wanghong’ to ‘Wanghong Thinking’: New Research Agenda and Critical Reflections”
  • Haiqing Yu (RMIT University), “Chinese Internet as the Nexus of Socio-technological Power”
  • Weiyu Zhang (National University of Singapore), “30 Years of China’s Online Fandom”

March 3, 8:00-10:00am ET

  • Jun Liu (Copenhagen University), “Reflections on Studying the Internet and (Contentious) Politics in China”
  • Gianluigi Negro (Siena University), “Studying the Internet in China through Metaphors”
  • Gabriele de Seta (University of Bergen), “From ASCII Greetings to Synthetic Livestreams: Three Decades of Chinese Digital Folklore”
  • Florian Schneider (Leiden University), “Nationalisms on China’s Evolving Internet”
  • Ge Dino Zhang (City University of Hong Kong), “A Decade of Chinese Game Studies in Retrospect”
  • Lin Zhang (University of New Hampshire), “Platformized Family Production: Social Reproduction and E-Commerce in Rural China”

Reimagining Queer Chinese Screen Studies

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to share the publication of the special issue “Reimagining queer Chinese screen studies” of the Journal of Chinese Cinemas coedited by Jamie J. Zhao and Hongwei Bao, which may be of interest to some in this group. Some of the articles are open access on the journal’s site. Please kindly find its TOC and links copied below:

Special Issue of the Journal of Chinese Cinemas
Reimagining queer Chinese screen studies
Guest edited by Jamie J. Zhao and Hongwei Bao

Introduction: Queer screens with Chinese characteristics?: Reimagining queer Chinese screen studies in the twenty-first century
By Jamie J. Zhao and Hongwei Bao

Digital video activism: Fan Popo’s queer Asian diasporic politics
By Hongwei Bao

Queer cinemas of the Sinosphere: Queer China goes out
By Zoran Lee Pecic

Queering the cinematic border of the PRC and Hong Kong: On Fruit Chan’s prostitute trilogy
By Alvin K. Wong

Taking a queer-friendly stance under censorship: Beijing International Short Film Festival as an alternative site for screening Chinese queer shorts
By Heshen Xie

Queering community: The affect of visuality in the Sinosphere
By Jinyan Zeng

Toward a cinematic transtopia
By Victor Fan

Heart and body: Queer crossings in Go Princess Go
Carlos Rojas

Posted by: Lila Yang (On behalf of Dr. Jamie J. Zhao)

Digital Cultures and AI Governance symposium

China Through the Looking Glass: Digital Cultures and AI Governance: An in-person Asian Studies Symposium 
Date: February 29 and March 1
Location: Montclair State University, 1 Normal AVE, Montclair, NJ, 07043

Thursday, February 29, 3:00pm-4:30pm, University Hall 1030
China’s Digital Cultures: From BBS to Papi Jiang
Guobin Yang, Grace Lee Boggs Professor of Communication and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania

Friday, March 1
A) 9:45am-11:00am, Dickson Hall 177
AI and Data Governance: Going Beyond the US-China Arms Race Framing
Peter D. Hershock, Director, Asian Studies Development Program, East-West Center

B) 11:15am-12:15pm, Dickson Hall 177
Why China and Asian Studies Matter: A Panel Discussion
Moderator: Peter D. Hershock, East-West Center
Panelists: Dona Cady, Middlesex Community College; Kin Cheung, Moravian University; Dorothee Hou, Moravian University; Robin Kietlinski, LaGuardia Community College–CUNY

C) 1:45pm-3:45pm, Dickson Hall 178, Asia Across Disciplines: A Roundtable Discussion

More info, and please sign up here:

Sponsored by Montclair State University, Luce Foundation, Asian Studies Development Program at East West Center

Posted by: Wing Shan Ho <>

Include Me Out lecture

Online Lecture: “Include Me Out”: Mobility, Cosmopolitanism, & the Transpacific, Transmedia Encounters in Eileen Chang
By Ying Xiao, Associate Professor on Chinese Film and Media (University of Florida)
Global Asia Speaker Series
March 18, 2024  |  6 pm CT/ 7 pm ET  |  Virtual

This talk examines and reconsiders Eileen Chang and the adaptations and derivative creativities associated with her from a transpacific, transmedia, and intercultural perspective. Revolving around “Lust/Caution,” Xiao’s study interlaces and remaps the Eileen Chang phenomenon from the original fiction by Eileen Chang (1977) to Ang Lee’s film adaptation (2007) and popular digital culture’s reincarnation and celebration of Chang as the “Goddess of Run” during the crisis of the post-COVID era. The mobility, exile, and transpacific, cosmopolitan imagination of Eileen Chang provide a vantage point to investigate and reread her in the context of transnational cultural production but also as nexus, hyperlink, and method for varied authors, film auteurs, and contemporary users to reinvent and cultivate multifaceted globalism and cross the boundaries between continents, languages, texts, images, and media.

Dr. Ying Xiao is an associate professor of global Chinese studies and film and media studies at the University of Florida. She is the author of China in the Mix: Cinema, Sound, and Popular Culture in the Age of Globalization (2017) and has published articles on neoliberalism and Chinese film industry, hip hop culture, Chinese rock ‘n’ roll film, documentary and transcultural media production, translation and film dubbing, Hong Kong cinema, and the representation of Chinese and Chinese cities in Hollywood film.

Sponsored by the KU Center for East Asian Studies

Posted by: Faye Xiao <>

Race and Representation–cfp

Call for Papers: Race and Representation in Chinese and Sinophone Literature and Culture
Modern Language Association 2025

Although there has been significant scholarship on how the racial construction of Asians, Japanese, or Chinese in an area studies context, it has largely focused on a specific nation-state and often a specific ethnic minority, other studies have focused on Asian settler-colonialism or the representations of race in the Japanese empire or specific racial formations or diasporas, most often North American diasporas While there are clear reasons for organizing studies in these ways, these methodologies do not allow for drawing out resonances and connections that may exist outside of the lines drawn between area studies and ethnic studies, or between studies confined to specific regions.

In addition, the majority of studies of race in East Asian are historical or anthropological. There is significantly less work that has been done on representations of Asian racial formations in literature and culture. Much of the scholarship that exists focuses either on racial formations in a diasporic context, or how Asians are constructed in a Western context. This panel welcomes applications about racial passing, race relations, and racial ambiguity, and other topics related to representations of race within Chinese and Sinophone literatures.

Description & Requirements:
Please submit 200 word abstracts for topics related to race and its representation within Chinese and Sinophone literature and media. Please submit abstract and brief bio by March 20, 2024 to <>

Posted by: Nathaniel Isaacson <>

When SF Meets Political Fact

Source: China Media Project (2/22/24)
When Science Fiction Meets Political Fact
A win for China in the Best Novella category at the 2023 Hugo Awards for science fiction has been lauded by state media amid global controversy over authors being shut out of the Chengdu-hosted event. But many Chinese readers have panned the winning work — and some suspect that its victory is politically too convenient.
By Alex Colville

Hugo Awards celebration.

To the surprise of no one who understands the Chinese leadership’s obsessive control of ideas, news broke last week that a prestigious international book award was subject to censorship when held in China last October. File 770, a science fiction blog, revealed in a special report how the selection panel of the Hugo Awards in Chengdu had obeyed local laws and regulations, vetting the eligibility of finalists based on their stance on sensitive political issues. The blog also found evidence that Sichuan’s propaganda bureau had conducted “strict checks” on works at the convention.

For those paying closer attention, the red flags had flown at least six months before the awards were held, as rules published by Chengdu WorldCon said content considered for awards would only include works and individuals “that comply with local laws and regulations.” In China, local laws and regulations always abide by the political discipline of the Chinese Communist Party. Foreseeing trouble did not require a vivid imagination.

In media coverage outside China, the most obvious focus has been those writers excluded by Chengdu’s skewed process — including the likes of R.F. Kuang, Neil Gaiman, and Paul Weimer. But what about those writers who were boosted? Continue reading

Hidden Luminaries–cfp

CFP: Hidden Luminaries: Obscure Actresses and Women Filmmakers in Chinese Film History
Special issue of Journal of Chinese Cinemas 
Guest Editors: David John Boyd (University of Glasgow) and Jessica Siu-yin Yeung (Lingnan University)
Associate Editor: Yiman Wang (University of California, Santa Cruz)

This issue will contribute to the field of Chinese women’s cinema, with studies on individual actresses and women filmmakers who have either faded from cultural or institutional memory, or who are significant in their own region but are under-studied in Anglophone scholarship.

In “The Life of the Obscure” (1924–25), Virginia Woolf proposes that the biographies of obscure and common people who led fascinating lives is crucial for recovering silenced histories. These obscure lives gain their significance through their collective worth of historicity, hence shifting the paradigm in life-writing practices from dominant, single lives of Great Men to minor, group lives of ordinary civilians. One of the roles of these forgotten individuals, to Woolf, is to introduce new perspectives on “greatness” and “lives.” This issue takes its cue from this approach and invites contributors to democratise Chinese-language film history, archive the historiographies of women film workers in contemporary form, and further problematise the notion of “Chinese” actresses and filmmakers in existing discourse. Continue reading

Aesthetics in Contemporary China–cfp

Dear all,

I am delighted to share with you the theme of the 17th CCVA Annual Conference (Extra)ordinary Living: Aesthetics in Contemporary China, convened by Dr Federica Mirra and Prof Jiang Jiehong, in collaboration with Nanjing University of the Arts.

Date: 9-10 November 2024 (tbc)
Venue: Nanjing University of the Arts, Nanjing, China (in-person only)
Deadline for abstracts: 1 March 2024

(Extra)Ordinary Living: Aesthetics in Contemporary China

From pre-dynastic rites and music to literati art and volumes on the pleasures of life, the notion of living has long inspired Chinese works of art and objects of design, which, in turn, document and inform diverse modes of society and culture, broadly conceived. More recently, an interest in everydayness re-gained momentum between the 19th and early 20th century. Later, during the Maoist era, life in the countryside and the labour of the masses was brought to the fore with the collective production of paintings, woodblock prints and propaganda posters. Throughout the 1980s, Chinese artists still drew inspiration from living, as suggested by the pioneering work by artist collectives such as the Pond Society (Chishe) and the Polit-Sheer-Form Office (Zheng chun ban), or the early works by contemporary artists in the 1990s, e.g., Geng Jianyi, Song Dong, Yin Xiuzhen, and Zhuang Hui. Continue reading

Emigres are creating an alternative China

Source: NYT (2/23/24)
Émigrés Are Creating an Alternative China, One Bookstore at a Time
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
From Thailand to America, Chinese denied a safe public space for discussion in their home country have found hope in diaspora communities.
By Li Yuan (Reporting from Tokyo; Taipei, Taiwan; and Chiang Mai, Thailand)

“What matters is not what you oppose but what kind of life you desire,” said Anne Jieping Zhang, the owner of bookstores in Taipei and Chiang Mai, Thailand. Credit…Simon Simard for The New York Times

On a rainy Saturday afternoon in central Tokyo, 50 or so Chinese people packed into a gray, nondescript office that doubles as a bookstore. They came for a seminar about Qiu Jin, a Chinese feminist poet and revolutionary who was beheaded more than a century ago for conspiring to overthrow the Qing dynasty.

Like them, Ms. Qiu had lived as an immigrant in Japan. The lecture’s title, “Rebuilding China in Tokyo,” said as much about the aspirations of the people in the room as it did about Ms. Qiu’s life.

Public discussions like this one used to be common in big cities in China but have increasingly been stifled over the past decade. The Chinese public is discouraged from organizing and participating in civic activities.

In the past year, a new type of Chinese public life has emerged — outside China’s borders in places like Japan.

“With so many Chinese relocating to Japan,” said Li Jinxing, a human rights lawyer who organized the event in January, “there’s a need for a place where people can vent, share their grievances, then think about what to do next.” Mr. Li himself moved to Tokyo from Beijing last September over concerns for his safety. “People like us have a mission to drive the transformation of China,” he said. Continue reading