World Factory

World factory graphicWorld Factory is a new BICC-supported project that aims to explore the relationship between China and the UK – and the relationship of both countries to consumer capitalism, through the lens of the global textile industry. Textile production in 19th century Manchester provides the starting point for an exploratory process focussing on the rapid change underway in contemporary China. Professor Dagmar Shäfer at the University of Manchester is collaborating with METIS ARTS who are working with Shanghai-based Chinese theatre director Zhao Chuan and his company Grass Stage to undertake the research and development.

WORLD FACTORY – A CAFÉ CONVERSATION- Centre for Chinese Contemporary Arts, Manchester

Wednesday 25 February 2015 , 6.30 – 8.30 pm
Jasmine Suite

This informal evening offers an introduction to the World Factory project – an investigation of global consumer capitalism through the lens of the textile industry, from the heart of the industrial revolution in nineteenth-century Manchester to the world behind the ‘Made-in-China’ labels on our clothes today.

Four expert speakers with different perspectives on the global textile industry will discuss the relationship between production and consumption patterns in China today, and Manchester’s clothing and textile history, before opening up the conversation to the wider audience. There will also be a live demo of the digital World Factory shirt – with an opportuntity to trial our phone app to scan barcodes on the shirt – to reveal the people and processes behind how each shirt was made.

The speakers are to include Sara Li-Chou Han  researcher, designer and co-founder of Stitched Up collective

Amanda Langdown – Senior Lecturer, Fashion, Illustration with Animation at Manchester Metropolitan University with an interest in sustainable development

Tracey Cliffe – costume assistant, designer and organiser of a recycled fashion show at the Museum of Science and Industry

Lena Simic–  performance practitioner, co-organiser of the Institute for the Art and Practice of Dissent at Home and Senior Lecturer in Drama at Liverpool Hope University





Crossover Videos: Westerners in China and Chinese in the UK

Three documentary videos and discussion

Time: June 16, 2014 from 3-6.30pm

Place: London School of Economics, St Clements Building, STCS.75


Sponsored by the British Inter-university China Centre (BICC). Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council



3.00-3:15       Introduction, Robert Bickers and William A. Callahan

3:15-5:30       Video screening

3:15-3:45      “Robert Hart: For China and the World”; Jeremy Routledge & Robert Bickers

3:50-4:15      “Uncle Chuck: The Shanghailander”; William A. Callahan

4:15-4:45      “BBC” (British Born Chinese); Elena Barabantseva, Andy Lawrence, Ben Cheetham, Tom Turner

4:45-6:30      Panel discussion: Video documentary in humanities and social science research

Chair: Jeffrey Wasserstrom (UC, Irvine)

Panelists: Bickers, Routledge, Callahan, Barabantseva, Cheetham, Turner

Any questions, please contact


Robert Hart: For China and the World (31 minutes)

Robert Bickers (Bristol University) and Jeremy Routledge (Calling the Shots films)

‘For China and the World’ explores the largely forgotten history of Britain in China from the 1850s to the early 1900s through the life of Irishman Sir Robert Hart. Hart was the inspector general of China’s Imperial Maritime Customs from 1863 to 1911. An employee of China’s ruling Qing dynasty, he played a crucial role in the economic development of the country and in its interaction with foreign powers. Filmed in Shanghai and Northern Ireland, the film outlines the personal and political conflicts that motivated one of the most important foreign figures in Chinese history, as well as his legacy today.



“Uncle Chuck: The Shanghailander (22 minutes)

Bill Callahan (London School of Economics)

What was it like to be an American in Shanghai in the 1920s? ‘Uncle Chuck: The Shanghailander’ examines the life-style of an American businessman who went to Shanghai in 1924, and left just ahead of the Red Army in 1949. It chronicles Chuck’s journey from small-town America to cosmopolitan Shanghai, and shows how he pursued the American Dream in inter-war China. The film puts the details of his family history in the context of global imperial history, when Shanghai was controlled by Europeans, Americans and Japanese.



BBC (British Born Chinese) (30 minutes)

Elena Barabantseva (University of Manchester), Andy Lawrence, Ben Cheetham, Tom Turner (All Rites Reversed Films)

Little is known about life in the British Chinese community, which remains invisible to the public eye.  Daniel (age 11) and Kevin (age 13) are Chinese boys born in England, and this film explores how they fuse their Britishness with a strong sense of Chinese identity.  We look at the boys’ experiences at school and how they relate to people in their neighbourhoods, how they formulate their belonging and to what extent they feel they are stigmatised for being different. This is a ‘coming of age’ story, not just of two boys but of a community.  What can we expect from the next generation of British born Chinese?


Call for Papers: The Globalisation of Christianity in China, University of Manchester 15 – 16 May 2014

Call for Papers: The Globalisation of Christianity in China

 An international conference organised by

Centre for Chinese Studies,

Division of Religions and Theology

To be held at the University of Manchester 15-16 May 2014

 Christianity came to China four times: with the Nestorians during the Tang dynasty (618-907), the Franciscans during the Mongol-ruled Yuan dynasty (1271-1368), the Jesuits during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), and with the Protestants ever since the Opium War (1839-42) and during the Republican Era (1911-1949).  But four times it seems they disappeared as these dynasties and the Republican regime vanished from the map of China.  The study of Christianity in China has flourished in recent year (Richard Madson, Lian Xi, Ryan Dunch, Alvyn Austin, Daniel Bays, to name a few).  But the re-emergence and popularity of Christianity in the post-Mao era has raised new questions about the ways in which historians have studied the history of these missions/missionaries.  The churches, converts and practices they left behind have resurfaced in the post-Mao era.  These missions have not failed as generations of historians have argued. The post-Mao era has provided us with hindsight unavailable to us before. How does this help us to re-examine the history of Christianity in China? The landscape of Christianity in post-Mao China is diverse; it differs enormously not just in terms of denomination and brand but also in terms of practice as some congregate in underground churches, some in old churches built by missionaries and others in new facilities provided by the government.  How significant were the foundations laid in the two millennia before?  Many Chinese people, both the elite and the ordinary, have embraced or become interested in Christianity.  What could this mean for China in the decades to come?  We welcome historians/scholars of Christianity and China to join us in a debate that addresses the following questions/issues:

  1. Is there a pattern in the introduction and indigenisation of Christianity in China in the past one thousand four hundred years
  2. Who are the old and new Christians that have emerged and what can they tell us about history, Mao and post-Mao China?
  3. Is the post-Mao emergence of Christianity true indigenisation because it is not missionary-imposed, but home grown and self-driven?
  4. What is the significance of the transition from “Christianity in China” to “Chinese Christianity”?

Inquiries and abstracts of no more than 200 words, plus 5 lines of biographical information, should be sent to Rebecca Frost at before 5 January 2014. Those accepted to present at the conference will be notified by 31 January 2014.  Accommodation and food will be provided during the conference but paper presenters should look for their own funding for travel.

Borders of Sexuality and Desire Network, 2013 workshop, Beijing

Hongwei Bao leads discussion at the workshop. Pictured are (facing camera) Andrew Diver (University of Cambridge postgraduate student) and Elisabeth Engebretsen.

In August 2013 the Borders of Sexuality and Desire network held an international workshop in Beijing at the city’s LGBT Center.

The event built on the successes of the historic 2013 National LGBT Conference, organised by several of the members of the network. This national conference was a two-day event that attracted more than 140 queer activists, organizers, and academics from across the People’s Republic of China, including not just developed eastern areas, but also Tibet and several other interior regions.

On the day following this conference, the network hosted more than 40 core participants from the enlightening weekend for discussion, planning, and dialogue. At the workshop we discussed ways to harness the conference’s momentum to strengthen global queer exchanges, especially as China is now a key voice in the growing international fields of sexuality and gender studies.

Discussions at the workshop focused on these key themes:

  • Indigenization versus globalization of the queer movement—How appropriate is contemporary queer theory, which emanates largely from the west, to the Chinese context, and what can the west learn from China’s example?
  • Defining terminology—How do concepts such as ‘comrade’ (tongzhi; a contemporary Chinese colloquialism referring to non-normative sexualities), ‘queer’ (ku’er; an English loan word used among academics and activists but that is also increasingly used in popular contexts), and ‘LGBT’ (another English loan, meant as a catch-all but that often excludes as much as it includes) contribute to an understanding of what it’s like to have a non-mainstream sexuality in contemporary China?
  • Understanding the movement—Is it necessary to define ‘a movement’, by which process inevitably some people will be excluded?
  • Locating practice—How can queer activists and scholars in China incorporate the needs of small towns and rural areas into what has been largely an urban movement?
  • Building relationships—How can queer activism and queer scholarship build fruitful mutual exchanges?

Organizing participants in the workshop included:

Future events are in planning and may include expanding the network’s activities to Hong Kong and Taiwan. An edited volume that builds on other workshops and includes contributions from many of the network’s participants is under consideration at the Nordic Institute for Asian Studies Press.

Introducing Dr David Tobin

David TobinAs a BICC student fellow, I conducted my doctoral research at the University of Manchester, with language training at Peking University and Xinjiang Normal University. My July 2013 thesis is titled ‘Nation-Building and Ethnic Boundaries in China’s North-West’, and was supervised by Professor William A Callahan and Dr Elena Barabantseva. It examines how the concept of performativity can be applied to the securitisation of identity in official discourse and the politics of the everyday.  The empirical focus is on how the party-state’s attempts to deepen integration of Xinjiang and Turkic-speaking Uyghurs into China shape popular responses and resistance to this nation-building project by both Han Chinese and Uyghurs. The interface between official and unofficial nationalisms is explored through discourse analysis of official documents and detailed semi-structured interviews with Han and Uyghur residents. The analysis is drawn from a year-long fieldwork period in Xinjiang’s largest city, Ürümchi. The training, expertise, and academic freedom provided by the BICC were absolutely indispensable in bringing this project to fruition.

My research interests are primarily identity politics, nationalism, and critical international relations theory using China and Xinjiang as case studies. Working with the BICC enabled me to develop networks, which have led to publications on nationalism and ethnic relations in the journal Inner Asia and a chapter in a forthcoming Routledge edited volume on identity politics amongst urban Uyghur youth.

I worked from September 2012 to September 2013 as Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester before taking up the position of Lecturer in Politics at the University of Glasgow. Most of my teaching is focused on the intersection between domestic and international politics using China as the key case study. I am currently working on converting my thesis into a monograph and writing several journal articles on ethnicity in contemporary China based on my fieldwork. My next large-scale research project will explore how China’s increasingly influential public intellectuals theorise the role of ethnicity in what they see as China’s rise to global superpower status.

Introducing Sam Geall

Sam Geall Photo (1)As the recipient of a BICC studentship from 2008-2012, I was able to pursue the research and fieldwork for a PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester, supervised by Dr Anna Lora-Wainwright and Prof Sarah Green. My dissertation focuses on climate change as it is explored in the contemporary Chinese public sphere.

My broader research interests include Chinese journalism, environmental activism and citizen science, themes that also run through the book I recently edited, China and the Environment: The Green Revolution (Zed Books, 2013) and the book-length report I authored, CIimate-change journalism in China: Opportunities for international cooperation (Caixin Media and International Media Support, 2011), as well as my writing for a number of publications, including The Guardian, The New Statesman, Foreign Policy, New Humanist, Index on Censorship, China Rights Forum, openDemocracy and Green Futures.

Sam Geall book front coverI am also Executive Editor of, a bilingual online journal devoted to open discussion of all environmental issues, with a special focus on China, and the International Coordinator of a Special Policy Study on Promoting Social Media and Public Participation in China’s Green Development for the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), a high-level think tank.

From 2012-2013, I worked as Departmental Lecturer in Human Geography of China at Oxford University, where I taught undergraduate courses and graduate seminars on China, environmental policy and sustainable development. In November/December 2013 I expect to complete my PhD, and in December 2013 I will join the STEPS Centre at the University of Sussex as a post-doctoral research associate on the Low Carbon Innovation in China project.

The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France: Manchester 8-9 July 2013

Yuanmingyuan workshop - Manchester - 8-9th July‘The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France: Representations of the ‘Summer Palace’ in the West’

A workshop organised by the Centre for Museology and funded by the Centre for Chinese Studies

In October 1860, at the culmination of the Second Opium War, British and French troops looted, and then burnt, the imperial buildings in the Yuanmin­gyuan (or ‘Summer Palace’) in the north of Beijing. Over a million imperial ob­jects are estimated to have been taken from the site: many of these are now scattered around the world, in private collections and public museums.

This two–day workshop at The University of Manchester, 8th-9th July 2013, will explore the ways in which objects from the Yuan­mingyuan have been represented in the West. It will be the first such event to combine approaches from specialists in the history of collecting with the views of curators of Yuanmingyuan objects.

Confirmed speakers include James Hevia (Chicago), Greg Thomas (Hong Kong), Nick Pearce (Glasgow), Vincent Droguet (Château of Fontainebleau).

For further details contact:

There is no charge for attendance but numbers are limited. To secure a place contact: