Chinese Whispers? (Disappearing) Communications in People’s Republic of China

Chinese Whispers? (Disappearing) Communications in People's Republic of China

Xuenan Cao - Postdoctoral Associate in East Asian Studies and Lecturer in East Asian Languages & Literatures

Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
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Communication in China has been characterized as centralized, censoring, and, with the hyper-technologized dominance in facial recognition technologies, “techno-authoritarian.” This talk presents evidence that disappeared communications and erased messages, although ubiquitous, are often not results of censorship. Records and databases produce noir stories and dystopic narratives about Chinese media cultures. These stories are incomplete because they are skewed towards stored and “verifiable” data. In this talk, I argue that the elite use storage media to preserve knowledge, but meanwhile, they overlook the vital, ephemeral communications which characterized the non-elite experience of knowing. 


Xuenan Cao is a scholar of Chinese media cultures and literature. She got her Ph.D. from Duke University in 2021. During her doctoral training, she has published in peer-reviewed journals in fields as varied as humanistic sociology, literature, translation studies, and China studies. She has also written in Chinese on topics ranging from digital writing and comparative philosophy, to the history of science and environmental issues.


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China