A talk by GUOBIN YANG (Barnard College)
Online activism is one of the most important new forms of popular contention in China since the student movement in 1989. Based on the speaker's forthcoming book, this talk delineates the history and characteristics of online activism and analyzes its causes and consequences. Online activism is a response to the grievances, injustices, and anxieties caused by the structural transformation of Chinese society. State power constrains the forms and issues of contention, but instead of preventing contention, it forces activists to be more creative. Culture, understood as symbolic forms and practices, informs and constitutes online contention through both traditional and innovate rituals and genres. Market-driven business interests favor contention despite the dangers of manipulation. Civil society organizations strategically use the internet to promote social change. And finally, transnationalization expands the scale and radicalizes the forms of online activism. All this adds up to a complex picture of online activism as a central locus of social conflict and social transformation in contemporary China.
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Guobin Yang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures at Barnard College. He is the author of the forthcoming The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online (Columbia University Press) and co-editor (with Ching Kwan Lee) of Re-Envisioning the Chinese Revolution: The Politics and Poetics of Collective Memories in Reform China (Stanford University Press, 2007). For further information, see http://bc.barnard.columbia.edu/~gyang/
Tel: 310 825-8683
Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies
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