Symposium, The Everyday Politics of Digital Life in China at the University of Pittsburgh (Oct 7-8)

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The Asian Studies Center at the University of Pittsburgh announces a symposium on "The Everyday Politics of Digital Life in China."

Digital media, and the Internet in particular, have fundamentally and irreversibly changed daily life in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). However, current approaches to the politics of digital culture, which are often firmly based on examples from the West, largely fail to comprehensively address the multifaceted situations in digital-age China, whose unique and contradictory position between post-Socialism and neoliberal Globalism has remarkably complicated the contested relations between control and freedom, between the technological and the socio-political. To engage with these problems, this workshop brings together scholars from a wide variety of disciplines, including political science, law, film studies, communications, anthropology, and sociology, to broaden the theoretical and methodological scopes that may adequately address existing and emergent political questions regarding China’s burgeoning digital culture. The workshop examines how relatively ordinary occurrences, the everyday censorship of political or non-political content, the decision to circumvent the great firewall, posting a legal question online, or reading pollution-monitoring microblogs, creates China’s digital political culture in diverse and distributive manners. Engaging with both the macro-social and the micro-individual, the papers in this workshop draw on a variety of methods including big data, interviews, surveys, archival research, close readings, and critical theory to interrogate digital political life in China, which is simultaneously rich and restricted, diverse and particular, connected and isolated.

October 7, Friday, University Club, Conference Room A

5-7 pm KEYNOTE: Guobin Yang (University of Pennsylvania)

“Enchantment and Disenchantment in the Everyday Politics of Digital Life in China”

October 8, Saturday, University Club, Conference Room A

9:30-11:30am PANEL 1: Networks and Power

Andrew MacDonald (University of Louisville)

The Impact of Internet Use on Political Attitudes: New Survey Data from China

Bo Mai (University of Pennsylvania)

Talking about Censorship: Mapping Topic Clusters on the Chinese Twitter Sphere

John Wagner Givens (University of Pittsburgh)

Justice Online: Is the Internet Empowering Lawyers, Legal Mobilization, and Rule of Law Reform in China?

1:00-3:00pm PANEL 2: Digital Virality and Volatility 

Joshua Neves (Concordia University)

People as (Media) Infrastructure: Pirated Copy and the Volatility of Distribution

Rongbin Han (University of Georgia)

The Impact of Micro-blogging Experience on Chinese College Students

Yun Fan (Zhejiang University)

Parody as the Structure of Feelings for Contemporary Chinese Netizens

3:20-5:20pm PANEL 3: Eco-Media

Christopher Cairns (Cornell University)

Hazy Messaging: Framing Air Pollution on Chinese Social Media

Jinying Li (University of Pittsburgh)

Grey Clouds: The Micro-Ecology of Eco-Apps

Ralph Litzinger (Duke University)

Media Deep Time:  A New Politics of the Extractive?

Symposium is free and open to the public.  For more information contact the Asian Studies Center at