CfP: “Censorship and Self-censorship – China and Chinese Studies”

European Journal of Chinese Studies; Volume 1; No. 1, 2020

Deadline: 1st Dec 2018

For its first edition, the European Journal of Chinese Studies invites scholars to submit papers dealing with aspects of censorship and self-censorship in pre-modern, modern, and contemporary China. We welcome unpublished papers that discuss the historical continuities and discontinuities of censorship, the language and discourses of censorship in Chinese and transnational settings.

Historical and political dimensions: Traditions and discourses of censorship
Censorship today is a constant and well-established factor in the development of Chinese media and culture. The peoples under Chinese rule have lived with agents of censorship and daily practices of self-censorship from the early stages of the empire up until the establishment of the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China in Taiwan. From the first Emperor of Qin’s burning of books to the inherently censored writing of Standard histories by official scribes, censorship as well as ways to avoid it (through metaphorical criticism or the use of commentaries to foster one’s own ideas and ideals) have been central to the imperial history. In contemporary China, state-censorship “is not a cloak-and-dagger business” (Van Crevel 2017) but part of social and political practices and discourses. It re-shapes visibilities and discourses with its own reading and sensitiveness for all participants. Some observers suggest that censorship enhances self-discipline and has become an active part of contemporary Chinese cultural life. Beyond the question of how censorship is organized, we are interested in papers that analyse China’s social and political discourses about censorship.

Cultural reactions, new visibilities and re-shaped expressions
Censorship is a powerful political tool to restrict expression of opinion and social or political action. It creates new visibilities in daily life and forms a specific public domain, from journalism over literary activities to performing arts. In today’s China, negotiating with censors and the potentiality of censoring seems pivotal for musicians, artists, journalists, poets, bloggers and other creative agents seeking for participation in public interactions once they intend to leave the spheres of freebooting and enter commercial business. In comparison to the powerful forces of the market, direct representation of the party-state’s ideology and its system of values plays only a minor secondary role, though it still exists, too. How do these changes influence Chinese daily life and cultural scenes, and what are the consequences for perception and criticism of the latter in global contexts?

Transregional dimensions: Censorship next door and our own self-censorship
Recent developments indicate a clear intensification and rising presence of censorship activities not only within China but also visibly in all major kinds of foreign (economic, cultural, political, academic) relations. For Chinese Studies in Europe, censorship and self-censorship are no longer part of an observed reality abroad: with the integration of China into the economic globalization, the migration of students into Western universities as well as research and teaching resources funded by Chinese institutions under the direct surveillance of the state council and a growing number of students that are preparing for a career in China, researchers are faced with the question of how to deal with censorship and forms of self-censorship in their daily work. It is time to discuss, how these factors play out in the general academic environment for Chinese Studies in Europe and how their weighting-criteria might differ in the diverse regional and national environments that currently form the landscape of Chinese studies in Europe. This special issue should help to foster this kind of reflexivity in the field of Chinese Studies.

The European Journal of Chinese Studies is an open-access and peer-reviewed academic journal of the European Association of Chinese Studies. It is independent from financial and political interests from commercial publishing houses. It is hosted by university servers and will be published annually.

Proposals for papers in English and a short CV are to be submitted by 1 December 2018 to submitted abstract should not exceed 400 words.
Decisions of approval will be sent out by 22 December 2018. A Workshop on “Censorship and Self-censorship – China and Chinese Studies” will be carried out in March 8-10 2019 in Prague, sponsored by Chiang Ching-kuo International Sinological Center in Prague. Accepted paper presenters will receive full accommodation and get a paid travel of a maximum amount of € 500 (booked by organizers). The workshop will provide a platform for reflection and discussion of the complexities of censorship and self-censorship. All participants of the workshop have to send in a complete article for peer-review before 20 September, 2019. This article is scheduled to be published in the European Journal of Chinese Studies; Volume 1; No. 1, 2020.

The Organization Committee of the workshop: Bart Dessein, Sascha Klotzbücher, Frank Kraushaar, Olga Lomova, Alexis Lycas, Michael Schimmelpfennig, Nataša Vampelj. Contact:


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