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Alive and Kicking: The Work Unit in Post-Mao Political Campaigns - The Case...

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SW1.18

King's College London

Strand Building

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WC2R 2LS

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Alive and Kicking: The Work Unit in Post-Mao Political Campaigns - The Case of the anti-Falun Gong Campaign

Abstract

Have Chinese state strategies of political repression changed significantly? To what extent has the state innovated new strategies of repression versus utilizing pre-existing methods? To address this broader question the talk looks specifically at the extent to which and ways that Chinese authorities have continued to rely on work units to carry out political campaigns. A signature feature of the “traditional” Chinese communist system from the 1950s to 1970s was the degree to which individuals were dependent on their danwei, or work unit, for their needs and the extent to which the state used this institution to control and manage society, including in carrying out political campaigns. The expectation has been that with market reforms work units would no longer play as central a role, including in their role as providers of essential livelihood needs and as state agents of repression.

To what extent has this expectation been born out? To examine this question the talk looks at the role of work units in the anti-FLG campaign launched in 1999. What role have work units played in this campaign? Have they been effective agents of the state’s policy of suppressing FLG adherents? Have they in any way been brokers between the state and individual FLG practitioners?

The talk looks at the different roles and functions that danwei have performed over the course of the anti-FLG campaign, including variations between different types and categories of danwei, as well as variations based on idiosyncratic factors. It concludes that danwei have played a critical role in this political campaign, although from the state’s perspective market reforms limited their effectiveness.

Dr Corinna-Barbara Francis is an independent consultant who works on China human rights project development, monitoring and evaluation, and capacity-building in support of Chinese NGOs and civil society activists. She is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London carrying out research on China’s evolving authoritarian system. Previously, she was China Researcher at Amnesty International headquarters, London, for ten years. She formerly held research and teaching positions at Brown University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Missouri for more than ten years and has been the recipient of numerous research grants, including a Fulbright-Hays research fellowship. She has published widely in academic journals on China's emerging civil society, student politics, and property rights in the emerging third sector, including in Comparative Politics, The China Quarterly, and China Review International, and contributed to numerous co-authored books on China. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University and her BA from Yale University in East Asian Studies.

Photo credit: Du Bin (杜斌)

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SW1.18

King's College London

Strand Building

London

WC2R 2LS

United Kingdom

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