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    China’s Viral Villages: Digital Nationalism in Times of Crisis

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    Event description

    Crisis moments like the 2019 Hong Kong protests or the COVID-19 pandemic have shone a spotlight on how divided political opinions are across the Chinese-speaking world, often along fault lines created by tribalist and nationalist attitudes. These attitudes are shaped by official propaganda, but they also interact in complicated ways with the widespread adoption of internet technologies, and especially of mobile and interactive ‘web 2.0’ technologies since the start of the 21st century. Advances in ICT have augmented and accelerated human interactions, included group sentiments, ideologies, and political programmes. Community attachment is today adopted, filtered, transformed, enhanced, and accelerated through digital networks, whether in seemingly banal cases such as fandom practices or in more overtly political contexts such as nationalist agitation. As such processes unfold, the state’s techno-nationalist politics, the commercial rationale of platform providers, and the technical affordances of specific digital designs all conspire to drive viral interactions on China’s internet, be it on social media apps like Sina Weibo or video-sharing platforms like Bilibili. Based on observations about recent developments in the Chinese-speaking world, Florian Schneider relates his earlier analyses of Chinese online nationalism vis-à-vis Japan to the post-pandemic era, asking: what happens to nationalism when it goes digital?

    About the Speaker

    Florian Schneider, PhD, Sheffield University, is Chair Professor of Modern China at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies. He is managing editor of Asiascape: Digital Asia, director of the Leiden Asia Centre, and the author of three books: Staging China: the Politics of Mass Spectacle (Leiden University Press, 2019, recipient of the ICAS Book Prize 2021 Accolades), China’s Digital Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 2018), and Visual Political Communication in Popular Chinese Television Series (Brill, 2013, recipient of the 2014 EastAsiaNet book prize). In 2017, he was awarded the Leiden University teaching prize for his innovative work as an educator. His research interests include questions of governance, political communication, and digital media in China, as well as international relations in the East-Asian region.

    The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the Australian Centre on China in the World at ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.

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