Essays

The Essay (zawen) has long been a favoured medium for those wishing to challenge or even upend established power structures or ways of thinking. In this tradition, the Chinoiresie Essays section offers a selection of writings, photo galleries, speeches and conversations that seek to question and critique given truths and common sense certainties about China. All original essays published by Chinoiresie are peer reviewed. The editorial team solicits essays on specific topics and accepts submissions. If you are interested in contributing to Chinoiresie, please first contact the editors with a proposed topic at info@chinoiresie.info.

  • Andrew Kipnis’ new book, From Village to City: Social Transformation in Chinese County Seat (University of California Press, 2016), paints an extraordinary portrait of Zouping, a county in Shandong province, challenging our current understandings of modernity and putting forward a new theory of urbanisation. We spoke with the author.

  • 'I have always felt a deep loneliness (gudugan) and distance from the time in which we live. China’s ethnic minorities probably also feel this kind of isolation. When I spend a lot of time in the city and then go to film minorities in the borderlands, I realise that we share the same heart and solitary feelings.' A conversation with filmmaker Gu Tao.

  • Have labour reforms in China empowered workers or made their existence more precarious? In this Forum, we have invited three scholars who have researched precarity in its various manifestations in the Chinese labour market—Anita Chan, Kaxton Siu, and Sarah Swider—to offer some insights based on their experience in the field.

  • In this second episode of the Tianxia Podcast Series, Tessa Morris-Suzuki will take you on a trip through time in the ‘Hermit Kingdom’ of North Korea, in the footsteps of a Emily Kemp, a long-forgotten writer who travelled in Northeast Asia in the 1910s. Looking at this place where empires meet and clash, she will also discuss some fascinating new concepts, such as 'informal life politics' and 'guerrilla markets'.

  • After Mao launched the Cultural Revolution, vast numbers of students, workers, peasants, and other ordinary people divided into hostile groups that violently fought against each other. Each group claimed it was fighting out of loyalty to Mao’s teachings, but research by the speaker revealed that these conflicts were actually the consequence of mounting tensions within Chinese society prior to the Cultural Revolution.

  • In the days following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, the same question appeared repeatedly in media debates: ‘What now?’ One way of starting to untangle the threads is to try rethinking the notion of ‘globalisation’. Despite all the complex debates that have taken place in the past few decades, this ‘globalisation’ word still confuses and obscures as much as it enlightens. This essay suggests two terms for discussing what is happening: ‘macro-segregation’ and ‘the social deepening of the market’.

  • What does ‘rule of law’ mean in Xi Jinping’s China? In this Forum, Elisa Nesossi mediates a discussion with three experts on the historical and ideological development of socio-legal issues in China—Joshua Rosenzweig, Ewan Smith and Susan Trevaskes—reframing our understanding of Xi’s ‘rule of law’ agenda and enriching our sense of the meaning of this contested expression in the political context of contemporary China.

  • The great Mongolist and Sinologist Igor de Rachewiltz passed away last Friday night at the age of 87. A student of Giuseppe Tucci and close friend and in-law of Ezra Pound, Igor was a philologist of immense culture, as well as one of the world's foremost experts on Genghis Khan and his time. We recorded what probably is his last interview. In it Igor talks about his long-term fascination with the East, his family’s connections with the Golden Horde, his relationship with Ezra Pound, and his views of Genghis Khan and of the Mongol Empire.

  • Since 1949 the proportion of Han in Xinjiang's population has risen from four percent to at least forty-two percent. But what is it like to be a Han person living in Xinjiang? In this photo essay Tom Cliff explores the lives of Han settles in autonomous region and documents how Han migration has transformed the Xinjiang landscape.

  • On 28 April 2016, the National People’s Congress (NPC) passed the very controversial Law on the Management of Foreign NGOs’ Activities within Mainland China, which will enter into force on 1 January 2017. Here we offer our short analysis of the legislation in the form of FAQs to explain its scope and significance.