Universiteit Leiden

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China Seminar: The Digital Geographies of Secrecy

Wednesday 30 November 2022
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

The Digital Geographies of Secrecy: Contentious politics and digital images in contemporary China

This talk examines the role of secrecy in contemporary China, focusing on the role of secrecy in contentious politics, and highlighting emerging digital geographies of secrecy. The talk starts by outlining different typologies of secrecy that can be identified as influencing contentious politics in contemporary China. The talk then discusses the relationship between secrecy and governance in China, with a particular emphasis on systems of surveillance and their relationship to secrecy.

Following this, the talk examines three case studies where secrecy played an important role:

  • anti-eviction activism in Beijing;
  • video protests related to Covid-19 lockdowns in Shanghai; poster sharing after the Sitong Bridge incident. Through these case studies, the talk highlights how territory, mobility;
  • materiality play an important role in the digital geographies of secrecy produced through contentious political movements in contemporary China.

The talk ends by considering the role of secrecy contemporary digital societies, with a particular emphasis on how eroding regimes of privacy make secrecy increasingly important.

Carwyn Morris

Carwyn Morris is a University Lecturer in China Studies. His research examines the spatialization of digital relations, including digital displacement, digital territorialization projects, digital mobilities, and internet celebrity (wanghong) urbanisms. He explores how contentious politics, migration, mobility, food, governance, territory, and wanghong are hybrid phenomena that take place across 'digital' and 'physical' spaces. His work has appeared in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, Mobility, Made in China, and The China Quarterly.

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