Chinese Labourscapes: Transregional Perspectives on Work and Rights

Made in China Summer School 2018 – Florence, 9–13 July

Over the past year the Made in China journal—available as a free download from this link—has been documenting the latest developments in the realm of labour and civil society in China. 2017 has proven disastrous for both, with the Chinese authorities targetting Chinese labour activists, weiquan lawyers, public intellectuals, and even private citizens in an attempt to stifle any form of criticism or dissent. At the same time, the plight of Chinese migrant workers has come once again to the fore, with the forced eviction of countless ‘low-end people’ from their shanty accommodations in the suburbs of Beijing making the headlines all over the world. Still, what has probably been the most remarkable feature of 2017 is the expansion of China’s global reach. Since 2013, when Xi Jinping launched his landmark ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative, the Chinese authorities have attempted to boost their influence on the international stage through a massive investment push. This is not only reshaping the international order, but also radically changing the political landscape of entire countries, with significant repercussions for labour rights.

In such a context, it is necessary to put the landscapes of Chinese labour in a broader context. This prompts us to go beyond the local dimension, and to consider transregional dynamics and implications underpinning the ways in which Chinese labour operates both domestically and globally. As we tried to make clear through our Made in China Project, taking a holistic approach to understanding Chinese labour is a necessary precondition to build those bridges of international solidarity and mutual comprehension so important in the period of global turmoil that we all now face—as the entire world seems to be descending into provincialism, xenophobia, and worse. It is with this goal in mind that we are now launching the second Made in China Summer School ‘Chinese Labourscapes: Transregional Perspectives on Work and Rights’, which will be held at the CISL Study Centre in Florence, Italy, from 9 to 13 July 2018. This event will bring together prominent scholars from all over the world for a series of presentations and discussions with students, academics, trade unionists, and NGO activists.


A detailed programme of the classes, workshops, and events will be published in the coming weeks. Here follows a list of the Summer School speakers who have confirmed their attendance thus far.

David Bandurski – China Media Project

David Bandurski is co-director of the China Media Project, an independent research and fellowship program founded in 2004 at the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism & Media Studies Centre. His research focuses on media policy and propaganda, the political discourse of the Chinese Communist Party, and trends in journalistic professionalism such as investigative reporting. David is the author of Dragons in Diamond Village(Penguin, 2016), a book of reportage about urbanisation and social activism in China, and co-editor of Investigative Journalism in China (HKU Press, 2010). He is currently a Richard von Weizsäcker Fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin, where he is working a new book about Shanghai’s World Economic Herald, one of China’s most influential newspapers in the 1980s, before its shutdown ahead of the 1989 June Fourth Massacre.

Jean-Philippe Béja – Sciences-Po, Paris

Jean-Philippe Béja is Emeritus Senior Research Fellow at the National Center for Scientific Research and the Center for International Studies and Research at Sciences-Po, Paris. He has worked for decades on relations between society and the Party in China, and has written extensively on intellectuals and on the pro-democracy movement in the People’s Republic of China. He also works on Hong Kong politics. He edited The Impact of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Massacre (Routledge, 2011), Liu Xiaobo, La philosophie du porc et autres essais (Gallimard, 2011), and Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the Challenges of Political Reform in China (Hong Kong University Press, 2012, co-edited with Fu Hualing and Eva Pils).

Stefan Brehm – Lund University

Stefan Brehm is a Researcher at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University, and co-founder of Globalworks Lund AB, a start-up specialising in big data analytics for social and environmental governance (ESG). Stefan is an economist by training and has studied modern Chinese in Germany and Taiwan. He has worked on a wide range of China-related issues such as financial market regulation, fiscal policies, innovation systems, technology, leadership, environmental governance, and labour rights. As an advisor to the private and public sector, he gained practical insight into social auditing practices in Chinese factories. Full profile at this link.

Ivan Franceschini - Ca’ Foscari University and Australian National University

Ivan Franceschini is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and at the Australian Centre on China in the World, the Australian National University. His research focuses on Chinese labour and civil society, but he is also interested in Chinese modern history and literature. He has published several books related to China, on topics ranging from human trafficking to digital activism, and from labour struggles to civil society. He is co-editor of Made in China: A Quarterly on Chinese Labour, Civil Society, and Rights. Currently, he is developing a research project on labour rights in Cambodia. Full profile at this link.

Mark W. Frazier – The New School

Mark W. Frazier is Professor of Politics at The New School, where he also serves as Academic Director of the India China Institute. He teaches and writes about social policy in China and efforts to reduce inequalities. His recent research draws comparisons between China and India in terms of how each has coped with challenges related to inequality and urbanisation. In his capacity as a director at the India China Institute, he works with faculty colleagues to sponsor research projects and conferences to support scholarship on comparative research on China and India, as well as Sino-Indian relations and their joint impact on the rest of the world. He is the author of Socialist Insecurity: Pensions and the Politics of Uneven Development in China (Cornell University Press, 2010) and The Making of the Chinese Industrial Workplace (Cambridge University Press, 2002). Before assuming his current position at The New School in 2012, he held faculty positions at the University of Oklahoma and at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. Full profile at this link.

Ching Kwan Lee – University of California, Los Angeles

Ching Kwan Lee is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is interested in global and comparative issues work, globalisation, political sociology, development of the global south, comparative ethnography, Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and Africa. One of her current research projects examines the rise of ‘platform capitalism’ in China and its impact on state-capital relation, employment, and workers’ new imaginations of work and working lives. Another on-going project traces the historical trajectories and contemporary forms of grassroots politics in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China. Previously, she has published three monographs on China, forming a trilogy of Chinese capitalism through the lens of labour and working class experiences. Gender and the South China Miracle: Two Worlds of Factory Women (1998) documents the organisation of gender and work in factory regimes in Hong Kong and Shenzhen when South China first emerged as the workshop of the world. Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt (2007) chronicles the unmaking and making of the Chinese working class in two regional economies experiencing the death of socialism and the rise of capitalism respectively in one country. The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor, and Foreign Investment in Africa (2017) follows the footsteps of Chinese state investors to Zambia and compares its relation with African state and labour to other global private investors. Full profile at this link.

Kevin Lin – International Labor Rights Forum

Kevin Lin is the China Program Officer at International Labor Rights Forum, a non-profit organisation in Washington DC that advocates for workers’ rights globally. He has worked with university law schools and civil society organisations to provide legal aid to and improve the legal environment for rural migrant workers in China. His research interests include labour relations in China’s strategic state-sector, collective bargaining and industrial relations, labour protest, and the development of Chinese civil society. His current focus is on the intersection between the workers’ activism and civil society.

Nicholas Loubere – Lund University

Nicholas Loubere is Associate Senior Lecturer in the Study of Modern China at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University. His main area of research explores the ways in which microcredit programmes are implemented at the township and village levels in rural China, and the roles that these programmes play in local development strategies and livelihoods. He is also in the process of developing two new research projects. The first seeks to examine the informal migration of Chinese nationals to Ghana in order to engage in small-scale gold mining; the second aims to explore the use of new forms of Internet finance—particularly peer-to-peer lending—in rural areas of China. He is co-editor of Made in China: A Quarterly on Chinese Labour, Civil Society, and Rights. Full profile at this link.

Lucrezia Poggetti - Mercator Institute for China Studies

Lucrezia Poggetti is a Research Associate in the European China Policy Unit and International Relations Programme at the Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS). Her research focuses on China’s sub-regional diplomacy and public diplomacy strategies in Europe, as well as society relations between Europe and China. She is one of the authors of the joint GPPi-MERICS report Authoritarian Advance: Responding to China’s Growing Political Influence in Europe that was published in February 2018. Full profile at this link.

Malin Oud – Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law

Malin Oud works at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, where she currently wears many hats: Head of Stockholm Office, Economic Globalisation Team Leader, and Interim China Director. In 2011-2016, Malin Oud was the founder and managing director of Tracktwo. She headed RWI’s Beijing Office from 2001 to 2009, and has worked as a consultant and adviser to inter alia the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Development Programme, the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. Malin is a Member of the Board of Directors of Sweden-China Trade Council, where she also serves as Chairperson of Sweden-China Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Business. She studied Chinese language, Chinese law, and international human rights law in Lund, Kunming, and London, and has an MA in International Development from Melbourne University. Full profile at this link.

Jack Linchuan Qiu – The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Jack Linchuan Qiu is Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where he serves as Director of the C-Centre (Centre for Chinese Media and Comparative Communication Research) and Co-Director of the Centre for Social Innovation Studies. His publications include Goodbye iSlave (University of Illinois Press, 2016), World’s Factory in the Information Age (Guangxi Normal Univ Press, 2013), Working-Class Network Society (MIT Press, 2009), Mobile Communication and Society (co-authored, MIT Press, 2006), some of which have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Korean. He is on the editorial boards of twelve international academic journals, and is Associate Editor for the Journal of Communication. He also works with grassroots NGOs and provides consultancy services for international organisations. Full profile at this link.

Marina Svensson – Lund University

Marina Svensson is Director of the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies at Lund University. Her main fields of research include: human rights debates and struggles; legal developments and struggles; cultural heritage debates and issues; investigative journalism, journalism cultures, and China’s media ecology; documentary film and visual cultures; and China’s digital society. Full profile at this link.

Sarah Swider – University of Copenhagen

Sarah Swider is an Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology of the University of Copenhagen. Her research interests include labour and labour movements, globalisation, development, urban studies, migration, and Asian Studies. She is interested in understanding the role of im/migrants and other precarious workers, especially those working in the informal sector, in reshaping urban spaces and building economies. She is also interested in understanding how the organisation of work is changing, the challenges that workers face today in the global economy, and how they are organising to deal with these challenges. She is the author of Building China: Informal Work and the New Precariat (Cornell University Press, 2015). Full profile at this link.

Luigi Tomba - University of Sydney

Luigi Tomba worked at the Australian National University for over fifteen years. Since 2017, he is the Director of the China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. His early research focused on the ideological debates and policy implications of China’s labour reform, between 1975 and 1995, but Luigi’s best-known work is on urbanisation, the social engineering of a Chinese urban middle class, housing and land reform. His current research interests are informed by China’s urban question the ideological implications of China’s project to urbanise the country and its social, political and territorial consequences. His most recent book, The Government Next Door, won the prestigious Joseph Levenson Prize in 2016. Full profile at this link.

Jie Yang – Simon Fraser University

Jie Yang is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Simon Fraser University. She was trained in linguistic anthropology, and her current research centres on psychological/medical anthropology. She has done research on privatisation, unemployment, new urban poverty, mental health, psychotherapy, and the politics of gender and class in contemporary China. Her research focuses on the emergence of new forms of governance in the context of China’s economic restructuring, for example, aesthetic, therapeutic, and neoliberal governance. Her first and ongoing project explores the psychological and emotional effects of state-enterprise restructuring on Chinese workers, particularly laid-off workers since the 1990s. She has recently started a new project on the mental health of government officials (the phenomenon of guan xinbing, ‘officials’ heartache’). Full profile at this link.

Sabrina Zajak – Ruhr University

Sabrina Zajak is Associate Professor of globalisation conflicts, social movements, and labour at the Ruhr-University Bochum. Her work at the Institute for Social Movements mainly focusses on issues related to transnational movements and activism, trade unions and NGOs, globalisation, governance, and labour standards in Asia. She is a founding member of the Institute for Protest ad Social Movement Research in Berlin. Her research on China focusses on the relationship between unions and labour NGOs, the relevance of transnational networks, global value chains, and state-civil society relationship. Her most recent publications include ‘Networks of Labour Activism: Collective Action across Asia and Beyond. An Introduction to the Debate’ and ‘Institutional Layering and the Emerging Power of Labour in Bangladesh’, both in Development and Change. She is the author of Transnational Activism, Global Labor Governance, and China (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). Full profile at this link.

Valter Zanin – University of Padua

Valter Zanin is an Adjunct Professor of Sociology of Organisations at the University of Padua, Italy, where he coordinates a research group on contemporary coerced labour and related issues. He is member of the scientific board of the Unesco Chair on Sustainable Development and Territorial Management (University of Torino), International Association for Audiovisual Archives on Migrations Europe-Latin America (Areia—University of Genova), and Research Group on Contemporary Slavery (Gptec—Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro). He carried out field research on the mining sector in Brazil, international maritime labour, and Chinese migration in Italy and Brazil. His research on Chinese migration in Italy has focused on labour and health conditions of Chinese migrant workers, and of the transformations of work-organization and management in Chinese migrant-run enterprises.


The Summer School will be held at the CISL Study Centre located on the hill rising from Florence towards Fiesole, close to S. Domenico. The Centre was founded in 1951 by CISL, the second largest union confederation in Italy, with the aim of offering its staff a professional and cultural training programme appropriate to the needs of the union. The beauty of the Centre derives not only from its proximity to the historical centres of Florence and Fiesole, but is also due to its position in the middle of Tuscany’s green countryside. All in all, it is a calm, peaceful, and attractive environment for study and discussion.

Fees and Scholarships

There is no enrollment fee for the Summer School, but participants will have to pay for their own transportation, food, and accommodation. Up to four scholarships will be awarded to cover all accommodation costs for selected participants. Only students who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or postgraduate academic programme are eligible to apply for a scholarship.

Food and Accommodation

Participants will have to pay for their own food and accommodation, but we are able to assist with the arrangement of accommodation at the CISL Study Centre for the duration of the Summer School (ideally, check-in should be on 8 July and check-out on 14 July). The price is 65 euros per night in a single room, breakfast included, or 95 euros per night in a double room (if available). Upon confirmation, participants will be required to pay half the total sum as a non-refundable partial payment.

How to Apply

Up to 30 participants will be admitted to the Summer School. Applications can be submitted until 25 March through this online form. If you have further inquiries, please contact us at Applicants will be notified whether or not they have been admitted by early April, then will be given until mid-April to confirm their attendance.


The Summer School is sponsored by the Australian Centre on China in the World, the Australian National University, with additional funding from Lund University, University of Sydney, and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. We also acknowledge the financial assistance of the European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 654852.

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