CARGC Book Talk with Maria Repnikova

Media Politics in China: Improvising Power under Authoritarianism
25 Sep 2017 -
12:00pm to 1:00pm
3901 Walnut Street, 6th Floor

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Who watches over the party-state? In this engaging analysis, Maria Repnikova reveals the webs of an uneasy partnership between critical journalists and the state in China. More than merely a passive mouthpiece or a dissident voice, the media in China also plays a critical oversight role, one more frequently associated with liberal democracies than with authoritarian systems. Chinese central officials cautiously endorse media supervision as a feedback mechanism, as journalists carve out space for critical reporting by positioning themselves as aiding the agenda of the central state. Drawing on rare access in the field, Media Politics in China examines the process of guarded improvisation that has defined this volatile partnership over the past decade on a routine basis and in the aftermath of major crisis events. Combined with a comparative analysis of media politics in the Soviet Union and contemporary Russia, the book highlights the distinctiveness of Chinese journalist-state relations, as well as the renewed pressures facing them in the Xi era.

"Meet China's critical journalists in this gripping book. They may not protest in the streets, but they cover critical social and political issues by deftly navigating the mine field of Chinese politics. Largely based in commercial media outlets, they build relationships of fluid collaboration with party officials while engaging in guarded improvisation in their journalistic profession. Different from their peers who manufacture journalism as party propaganda, they are more like social activists with a cause. And yet, all their critical journalism is produced, ironically, in a political context proverbially known as authoritarian. Maria Repnikova's important book draws on 120 interviews and a sophisticated understanding of Chinese media systems to illuminate how and why this ironical situation is possible and even understandable. In so doing, it explodes not a few conventional postulates about Chinese politics, media and society. This is a major contribution to the study of media politics and journalism in China and beyond." - Guobin Yang, University of Pennsylvania

"Media Politics in China is timely, extremely well-written and represents scholarship that is simultaneously broadly theoretical and intimately granular. Repnikova's approach to Chinese state-society relations through her treatment of the iterative, improvised relationship between government/Party and critical journalists takes our understanding of media politics in China to a whole new level." - Andrew Mertha, Cornell University

Maria Repnikova is a scholar of global communication, with a comparative focus on China and Russia. Her research examines the processes of political resistance and persuasion in illiberal political contexts, drawing on ethnographic research approaches and extensive time in the field. Maria holds a doctorate from the University of Oxford, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She speaks fluent Mandarin, Russian and Spanish. The courses taught at GSU include International Communication, Chinese Media, Politics and Society, and Communication in Global Contexts. She wrote Media Politics in China during her Postdoctoral Fellowship at CARGC.

Lunch begins at 11:45. Space is limited, RSVP to

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