New Publication, Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in Twenty-First Century China

Hui Faye Xiao Discussion

Dear colleagues,

This new publication may be of interest to H-PRC List members.

Book Details

Hui Faye Xiao. Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in Twenty-First Century China: Morning Sun in the Tiny Times. London and New York: Routledge, 2020. (Series: Routledge Contemporary China Series)


1st edition, 222 pages | 23 B/W Illus.

Hardback: 9780367345518

eBook: 9780429326905 



A century after the May Fourth Movement (1919) that has been invoked repeatedly as the first youth-led mass movement in Chinese history, what are today’s Chinese youths up to? This book seeks to answer the compelling question. Identifying three central themes: youth economy (青春经济), crisis (青年危机), and reinvention (再造青年), this book investigates the explosive youth culture in twenty-first century China, which is not merely a result of the national and global turn to a post-Fordist neoliberal creative economy but also an active and powerful force catalyzing cultural innovations, social changes, and collective efforts in reinventing a pluralistic and multivalent subject of youth (青年) as an icon of alternative futurity and hope in an age of vertiginous change, division, risk and uncertainty.


Providing a comprehensive analysis of literary, cinematic, musical, televisual, and social media representations about, for and by disparate youth groups, this book seeks to offer a systematic study of a trans-medial and multi-locale youth culture. In so doing, it examines contributions from high school dropouts, industrial workers, migrant laborers and "leftover women", as well as best-selling writers and filmmakers, cultural entrepreneurs, queer idols and fans, and young feminist activists. Observing the Chinese youths’ deployment of "small" genres, such as light novels, short videos and shojo manga (girls’ comics) and “small” (digital and social) media, this book ultimately demonstrates the renewal of cultural forms and the transformative power of networked "small" atomized individuals in reinventing a youthful coalition of silenced, belittled, and marginalized groups.

A thoroughly interdisciplinary study, Youth Economy, Crisis, and Reinvention in Twenty-First-Century China will be useful to students and scholars of Chinese culture and society, as well as Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, Gender Studies and Media Studies.


1. Introduction: Youth Culture in Three Keys

2. Youth Economy in the "China Dream": Rise of the Me-Generation Creative Class

3. Against the Proletarian Modernity: Retrotopic Journey and Precariat Subject in Alternative Youth Literature

4. Back to Youth on the Wings of Music: Prosthetic Memories and Sonic Nostalgia for an Unlived Past

5. "We Are Creating a Spokesperson for Ourselves": Queering and Un-queering Young Idols on Networked Small Screens

6. Political Economy of Small: Cross-Cultural and Transmedial Shojo Manga (Girls’ Comics) Aesthetics

Conclusion: Reinventing the Discourse of Hope in an Age of Crisis

About the Author

Hui Faye Xiao is Associate Professor and Chairperson of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Kansas, USA. She publications include Family Revolution: Marital Strife in Contemporary Chinese Literature and Visual Culture (Seattle and London: University of Washington Press, 2014).