Liberalization of Cultural Space: Progressive Trends in China's Digital Public


Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowships


Asian Languages & Literatures


This project builds on scholarship related to the Chinese Internet as a space of state control, activism, and literary practices. Moving beyond the "revolutionary" narrative of new technologies democratizing China, I examine how digital culture constitutes an integral zone of creativity even in authoritarian regimes like China by looking at the four most dynamic discursive spaces over the past two decades: bulletin board systems, blogs, microblogs akin to Twitter, and WeChat (a combination of WhatsApp and Facebook). By analyzing three prominent cultural modes – fun-seeking, trailblazing, and taboo-breaking – in the contemporary era, I contend that the entertainment-oriented online sphere has nurtured a diversified cultural public sphere that is open to constant contestation.