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In 2017, scholars in the China Studies field were stunned when it came to light that the prestigious British publishing house Cambridge University Press, one of the oldest presses in the world and, one would have hoped, a beacon of academic freedom, had blocked access inside China to more than 300 articles and reviews in the flagship journal The China Quarterly, at the request of Beijing authorities. After much outrage and protest from the international academic community, this decision was reversed, but the moment appeared to signal a turn for the worse for academic freedom, both for international scholarship on China, and for scholars inside China itself.
Since then, stories have abounded of both the worsening censorship of Chinese academic work, and of the increasingly challenging hurdles placed before international scholars seeking access to once readily available China-related materials. On this panel, Eva Pils (King’s College London), Ivan Franceschini (University of Botswana), Jue Jiang (SOAS), and Tim Pringle (SOAS) will discuss and reflect upon the growing problem of academic censorship in China, chaired by Jane Hayward (King’s College London). How is censorship impacting scholars within Chinese universities and research institutions? What are the problems being posed for scholars overseas, and what does all this mean for the future of China Studies? And to what extent might British, and other international institutions, be complicit?
Eva Pils is Professor of Law at King’s College London, an affiliated scholar at the US-Asia Law Institute of New York University Law School, and an extenral member of the Centre of Human Rights Erlangen-Nürnberg. Professor Pils studied law, philosophy and sinology in Heidelberg, London and Beijing. She holds a PhD in law from University College London. At King’s, she teaches courses on human rights; law and society in China; and authoritarianism, populism and the law. Before joining King’s in 2014, Eva was an associate professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law. She is a member of the Academic Freedom and Internationalisation Working Group and a legal action committee member of the Global Legal Action Network.
Ivan Franceschini is a Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at the University of Botswana. His current research focuses on Global China as seen from the vantage point of Cambodia, as well as on the role of Chinese organised crime in the online scam industry in Southeast Asia. His latest books include Xinjiang Year Zero (ANU Press, 2022), Proletarian China: A Century of Chinese Labour (Verso Books, 2022), and Global China as Method (Cambridge University Press, 2022). With Tommaso Facchin, he co-directed the documentaries Dreamwork China (2011) and Boramey: Ghosts in the Factory (2021). He is a founder and chief editor of the Made in China Journal, The People’s Map of Global China, and Global China Pulse.
Jane Hayward is a lecturer in China and Global Affairs at the Lau China Institute, King's College London. She researches China’s agrarian question (how rural land is organised, who controls it and who gets to profit from it). She teaches postgraduate courses on China and Globalisation, and China and Global Governance. Dr Hayward has a PhD from the East Asian Studies Department of New York University. She has held post-doctoral positions at the Oxford University China Centre and the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University in Beijing, where she worked at the Institute for Contemporary China Studies.
Jue Jiang is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow and Teaching Fellow at School of Law, Gender, and Media of SOAS, University of London. Her research interests lie mainly in criminal law and criminal justice, human rights, women’s rights and gender equality, and political-legal development in China. After being awarded a Ph.D. in Law from the Chinese University in Hong Kong, she worked for both domestic grassroots and international human rights NGOs for over four years.
Tim Pringle is a Senior Lecturer in Labour, Social Movements and Development at SOAS, University of London and Editor of The China Quarterly. His research focuses on labour movements, industrial relations and trade union reform in China, Russia and Vietnam. From 1996 to 2006, Tim worked with various labour rights organisations in Hong Kong and Mainland China prior to embarking on a PhD at the University of Warwick. Tim has published his research in numerous trade union, labour NGO and peer-reviewed journals and contributed chapters to many edited books. His own books include Trade Unions in China: the challenge of labour unrest re-issued in paperback by Routledge in 2013 and co-authorship of The Challenge of Transition: Trade Unions in Russia, China and Vietnam (2011, Palgrave).