Faculty Fellow Lecture: Lin Zhang

Tuesday, May 04, 2021 - 12:40pm to 2:00pm


Assistant Professor of Communication Lin Zhang will give her lecture, entitled Entrepreneurial Labor and China’s IT-centered Reinvention after 2008. 

China’s IT-centered reinvention and state-led promotion of technology-related entrepreneurialism after 2008 have attracted much public attention, especially from those interested in extrapolating a Chinese model of development. More recently, China’s emerging technological strength has become a source of geopolitical tensions and a target for American sanctions and containment in the unfolding US-China trade war.

This talk offers a perspective into China’s IT-centered reinvention after 2008 beyond the categorical formalism of the China model vs. the China threat. Through the case of Beijing’s Zhongguancun area, also known as China’s Silicon Valley, it provides a deep description of the lived experiences of elite and grassroots IT entrepreneurs and the zigzag trajectory of China’s economic transformation after 2008 as individual and collective labor of entrepreneurial reinvention. Based on decade-long multi-sited ethnographic and historical research, the talk situates China’s experiences in the global boom in IT entrepreneurialism amid trends towards financialization, platformization, and flexibilization of labor.

Following China’s own historical trajectory of articulating the global to the local while emphasizing its spatiotemporal specificity and internal contradictions, the talk provides a supplement, if not a modest counterbalance to proliferating accounts of China’s recent transformation in the English-speaking world that examine China from Western perspectives and/or through the lens of great power competition. It also offers some initial insights into the recent convergence between US and China in ramping up industrial policies to promote innovation and the role of state in responding to the crisis of neoliberalism. 


The Center for the Humanities annually hosts a series of informal lectures featuring the recipients of the previous year’s faculty fellowships. The talks focus on the fellows’ research. They provide an opportunity for faculty members to learn more about each other’s work and allow the Center to show off some of the intellectual riches it has helped foster. The goal of the series is to create a collegial environment that encourages discussion. 

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Umans, Katie