China Media Centre Autumn Seminar: Unsettling Pathologies of Homosexual and Sadomasochistic Desire in East Palace West Palace.

Speaker: Derek Hird

Date: Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Time: 14:00 – 16:00

Venue: E4.04, Harrow Campus

Chair: Professor Chang Xiangqun

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Abstract: Made in the mid-1990s, Donggong xigong 东宫西宫 (East Palace, West Palace; Dir. Zhang Yuan, 1996), was the first mainland Chinese film with homosexuality as an explicit theme. It imagines China capable of a more open discussion of homosexuality, here taking place within a political framework that is certainly not democratic, but in which the flow of power is not unidirectional: the ideas and practices of the powerful could perhaps transform through the love of those upon whom they exercise power. Two major themes interact: homosexuality (both morally despicable and a mental disorder) and sadomasochism (potentially transformative of subjectivities and social relations). This talk examines how the film challenges the moral condemnation and pathologising of ‘other’ sexual/gender practices. The film’s focus on the negotiation and contestation of power between a policeman and the gay man he arrests speaks to a Foucauldian political struggle, in which power is not concentrated in, or deployed coercively, by one party alone. Running water, ever-present as an aural and visual trope, represents [sexual] power as diffuse, fluid and constitutive of subjects and subjectivities, enabling subversion and transformation of power relations. The talk will conclude by examining the film’s relevance to academic and political debates on sexuality in contemporary China.

Biography: Derek Hird is a senior lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Westminster. His research interests include white-collar masculinities in China and Chinese migrant men’s experiences in London. Recent publications include Men and Masculinities in Contemporary China (with Geng Song) (Brill, 2014), “Making class and gender: White-collar men in postsocialist China,” in Changing Chinese Masculinities: from Imperial Pillars of State to Global Real Men, ed. Kam Louie, 137-56 (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2016), and “Moral Masculinities: Ethical Self-fashionings of Professional Chinese Men in London,” Nan Nü 18.1 (2016): 115-147.


Notes: This is also one of the Global China Media Seminar Series (GCMSS), co-organised with Global China Institute.

China Media Centre Autumn Seminar: Cultural factors limiting China’s global media efforts in Latin America

Speaker: Pablo Morales (University of Westminster)

Topic: Cultural factors limiting CCTV’s efforts in reaching Latin American viewers.

Date: Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Time: 14:00 – 16:00

Venue: A1.04, Harrow Campus

Chair: Professor Chang Xiangqun



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China Media Centre 2017 Autumn Seminar: The Prevalence And The Increasing Significance of Guanxi 

China Media Centre 2017 Autumn Seminar

The Prevalence And The Increasing Significance of Guanxi 

Speaker: Bian Yanjie

Date: Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Time: 16:00 – 18:00

Venue: RS 603, 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2HT

Chair: Professor Chang Xiangqun

10 10 2017 CMC Talk Yanjie Bian


Abstract: This forthcoming paper in The China Quarterly provides an analytical review of the social science literature on guanxi. The focus of this review is on the prevalence and the increasing significance of guanxi during China’s post-1978 reforms implemented to move to a market economy. Since then, researchers have engaged in debates on what guanxi actually means to Chinese people in the past and at present, how it has been adaptive to ongoing institutional transformations, and why its influence in economic, social, and political spheres can be stabling, increasing, or decreasing along with market reforms and economic growth. The author provides a synthesis of these debates before offering a theoretical framework within which to understand the dynamics of guanxi from the changing degrees of institutional uncertainty and market competition. Survey findings on the increases of guanxi usage in labour markets from 1978 to 2009 are presented to illustrate the usefulness of this framework. In the conclusion, the author argues that guanxi is a five-level variable, and that the nature and forms of guanxi influence are contingent upon on whether guanxi is a tie of connectivity, a sentimental tie, a sentiment-derived instrumental tie, an instrumental-particular tie, or an obligational tie that facilitates power-money exchanges. This five-level conceptualization is aimed at advancing future guanxi scholarship in the fast-changing Chinese society.

Biography: BianYanjie is Professor of Sociology at University of Minnesota, USA. Concurrently, he is Director of the Institute for Empirical Social Science Research at Xi’an Jiaotong University, China. Dr. Bian is a co-founder (with Professor Li Lulu) of the Chinese General Social Survey, which is a public data archive available to domestic and international scholars. Author of 13 books and more than 130 research articles on topics of China’s social stratification, social networks, and institutional change, Dr. Bian’s current projects include the development of the sociology of guanxi, a panel study about networks and jobs in Chinese cities, and East Asian social networks. He was recognized as one of the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Elsevier most-cited Chinese researchers in social science.

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