Panel Discussion—China Story Yearbook 2021: Contradiction

Light refreshments will be available from 5:30 pm, for a 6 pm start.

Esther Sunkyung Klein will facilitate a conversation with Ausma Bernot, Benjamin Herscovitch, Annie Luman Ren, and Yujie Zhu to discuss their unique contributions to the China Story Yearbook 2021: Contradiction.

In the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the many facets of crisis—the theme of last year’s China Story Yearbook—fractured into pictures of contradiction throughout Chinese society and the Chinese sphere of influence.

Contradiction: the ancient Chinese word for the concept holds within it the image of an unstoppable spear meeting an impenetrable shield. It describes a wide range of phenomena that English might express with words like conflict, clash, paradox, incongruity, disagreement, rebuttal, opposition, and negation. This year’s Yearbook presents stories of action and reaction, of motion and resistance.

The theme of contradiction plays out in different ways across the different realms of society, culture, environment, labour, politics, and international relations. Great powers do not necessarily succeed in dominating smaller ones. The seemingly irresistible forces of authoritarianism, patriarchy, and technological control come up against energised and surprisingly resilient means of resistance or cooptation. Efforts by various authorities to establish monolithic narrative control over the past and present meet a powerful insistence on telling the story from an opposite angle. The China Story Yearbook 2021: Contradiction offers an accessible take on this complex and contradictory moment in the history of China and of the world.

For this panel and Q&A event, the discussion will focus on the following pieces by Yearbook contributors:
- Smart Governance, Smarter Surveillance (Ausma Bernot)
- Taiwan and the War of Wills (Benjamin Herscovitch)
- How the ‘Garlic Chives’ Grieved: A Song for China’s Three-Child Policy (Annie Luman Ren); and
- The Show Must Go On: Livestreaming Intangible Cultural Heritage in China During COVID-19 (Yujie Zhu)

About the Speakers

Ausma Bernot is a PhD candidate in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University. Ausma’s doctoral research explores the dynamic interaction between surveillance technologies and social context and questions the multifaceted conditions that allow for the totalisation of surveillance in China.

Benjamin Herscovitch is a research fellow jointly appointed to the School of Regulation and Global Governance and the National Security College, both at The Australian National University. He is the author of the newsletter ‘Beijing to Canberra and Back’ and his research is focused on China’s economic statecraft and Australia–China relations.

Esther Sunkyung Klein is a guest editor of the China Story Yearbook in 2021 and is a senior lecturer in premodern Chinese studies at The Australian National University, focusing on Chinese philosophy and historiography. Her book, Reading Sima Qian from Han to Song (2019), traces premodern Chinese attitudes towards authorship and the representation of history.

Annie Luman Ren is a literary scholar and postdoctoral fellow at the Australian Centre on China in the World, The Australian National University. Her research focuses on the poetics of the mid-Qing novel Hongloumeng 紅樓夢 (also known as The Story of the Stone) and, by extension, the poetic world of the Bannerman (qiren 旗人) that underpins this literary masterpiece.

Yujie Zhu is a senior lecturer at the Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies, The Australian National University. His research focuses on ethical and political issues that emerge through cultural heritage, memory and tourism. His recent books include Heritage Tourism (Cambridge University Press, 2021), Heritage Politics in China (Routledge, 2020, with Christina Maags), and Heritage and Romantic Consumption in China (Amsterdam University Press, 2018). He serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Anthropological Research, Cultural Geographies, and the Journal of Heritage Tourism.

Find out more about the China Story Yearbook: Contradiction here.



Ausma Bernot, Benjamin Herscovitch, Annie Luman Ren, Esther Sunkyung Klein

Dates & times

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

5.30pm - 7.30pm


Auditorium, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, ANU

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