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  • Author: Joachim Betz
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Despite being a consolidated democracy with free and fair elections and having a political system with intense party competition, a relatively vibrant civil society, and a functioning federal set-up, India still ranks poorly in terms of the coverage, generosity, efficiency, and quality of its social protection. This is difficult to explain based on the factors usually advanced for the implementation of generous social policies. A second puzzle is the predominantly protective nature of welfare policies in India in the current era of globalisation, which should necessitate policies enabling workers to participate successfully in a more demanding economic environment. These puzzles may be explained partly by (a) the long-term insulation of the Indian economy from international competition, (b) the low share of industry and modern services in GDP until recently, (c) the precedence of identity policies, (d) the fragmentation of the political sphere, and (e) the meagre empowerment of women in India. We should, however, acknowledge that change is underway and that the picture is not bleak across India as a whole – being supported by economic reforms and growth, a greater degree of decentralisation and party competition within the country, increasingly discerning voters, and progress on female education and employment opportunities.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Reform, Democracy, Social Policy, Welfare
  • Political Geography: India, Asia
  • Author: Dafydd Fell, Isabelle Cheng
  • Publication Date: 02-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: In recent years, female marriage migration from China and Southeast Asia has significantly increased the number of foreign-born citizens in Taiwan. This article is a preliminary investigation into how political parties responded to the growing multicultural makeup of the national community between 2000 and 2012. We examine the content of the Understanding Taiwan textbook, the election publicity of the two major political parties, citizenship legislation, and the results of interviewing immigrant women. The findings show that the change in the ruling party did make differences in terms of both parties\' projection of immigrant women in election propaganda and citizenship legislation. However, inward-looking multiculturalism is practised by the two main political parties in Taiwan to forge national identity and enhance national cohesion rather than to promote the recognition of immigrants\' different cultural heritage.
  • Topic: Political Violence
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Heike Holbig
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Representatives from the social sciences and cultural studies continue to exhibit mutual reservations and sensitivities when they encounter each other in the field of area studies. This is particularly so with regard to research on East and Southeast Asia. Given this background and with the intention of deriving a productive definition of area studies, this article attempts to assess the current state of Asia-related area studies by reviewing and comparing the debates within the social sciences and cultural studies in the Anglo-Saxon and German-language spheres on the changing role of the discipline. In this text, region is defined as an ongoing process involving the communicative construction of social relations. Various approaches to describing the regions of East and Southeast Asia illustrate that this process is subject to dialectical movements of de- and reterritorialization, which should be examined as issues of equal empirical rank. In view of a growing focus primarily on transnational and transregional entanglements, this text suggests using the term “reflexive essentialism” and proposes more extensive reflection on the new and essentialist self-assurances, limitations, and entrenchments at the regional, national, and subnational levels.
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Jörg Wischermann, Bui The Cuong, Nguyen Quang Vinh, Dang Thi Viet Phuong, Nguyen Thi Minh Chau
  • Publication Date: 07-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Civic organizations (COs) are neither a good nor a bad thing. They are not inherently fighters for democracy or supporters of authoritarian rule. The way they develop depends on the impact that various forms of state power have on them and on their influence on the state. Vietnamese COs appear to be no exception. When we examine just one direction of these interdependent and reciprocal relations, it becomes clear that under the constraints of the Vietnamese state's infrastructural power many Vietnamese COs develop features of intra‐organizational authoritarianism; that they help to embed the state and the Communist Party more deeply within Vietnamese society; and, finally, that they contribute to bringing the society further under the control of the state and the party. However, this occurs to a very different degree depending on the type of CO. NGOs and faith‐based organizations in particular, at least in the field of gender norms and practices, seem to resist the state's discursive power. This could imply challenges to the state’s and the party's control of politics and society and leads the authors to draw far‐reaching conclusions as far as developmental cooperation with and potential support for various types of Vietnamese COs is concerned.
  • Topic: Non-Governmental Organization, Politics
  • Political Geography: Asia, Vietnam
  • Author: Jonathan Hassid, Wanning Sun
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: For political scientists, Chinese media practices and communication systems provide an enduring prism through which to understand how Chinese politics work. By contrast, for media and communication scholars, politics is one of the main domains in which various media and communication forms, practices and policies can be fruitfully explored. While political scientists and media scholars share this common interest, they tend to pursue different research agendas, adopt different methods of data-gathering and analysis, and at times seem to speak a different language. In fact, it is not an exaggeration to say that political scientists and media scholars may even have differ- ent understandings of what constitutes valid empirical data or worthy lines of inquiry and which theoretical models and paradigms are fash- ionable or out of date. Because of this divide, the two groups of scholars unearth different findings and reach different conclusions. This leads to the curious situation in which scholars of the same field – but in different disciplines – talk past each other, or worse still, look upon each other’s work with deep suspicion. While gulfs understandably exist across disciplinary boundaries, they are, to a great extent, avoidable. In fact, collaboration between the disciplines of anthropology and media studies has provided some shining examples of cross-fertilization bearing intellectual fruit (e.g. Ginsburg, Abu-Lughod, and Larkin 2002). And there are signs that as the Chinese media are becoming increasingly regionalized and local- ized, it is becoming possible to explore the analytic perspectives de- veloped in the field of geography to make sense of the new develop- ments in scale, place and space (Sun and Chio 2012). Given this fruit- ful collaboration, there are certain to be advantages in exploring dia- logue between political scientists and media scholars.
  • Topic: Media, Local, State Media
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Wanning Sun
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: he most common framework through which we under- stand media communication and political/social stability in China is that of hegemony and control. This characterization may have served us well in documenting how the mandate for stability often results in censorship, regulation and restriction, but it has two major faults: First, the focus on crackdowns, bans and censorship usually tells us something about what the party-state does not like, but does not convey much about what it does like. Second, it often obscures the routine ways the party-state and the market work together to shore up ideological domination and maintain stability. In this analysis of the policies, economics and content of a broad range of television programmes, I suggest that we look at the media and communication as an ideological-ecological system in order to arrive at a more nu- anced understanding of the relationship between China’s media prac- tices and its ongoing objectives.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Media, Propaganda, State Media
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jonathan Hassid
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Despite its authoritarian bent, the Chinese government quickly and actively moves to respond to public pressure over mis- deeds revealed and discussed on the internet. Netizens have reacted with dismay to news about natural and man-made disasters, official corruption, abuse of the legal system and other prominent issues. Yet in spite of the sensitivity of such topics and the persistence of China’s censorship apparatus, Beijing usually acts to quickly address these problems rather than sweeping them under the rug. This paper dis- cusses the implications of China’s responsiveness to online opinion. While the advantages of a responsive government are clear, there are also potential dangers lurking in Beijing’s quickness to be swayed by online mass opinion. First, online opinion makers are demographical- ly skewed toward the relative “winners” in China’s economic reforms, a process that creates short-term stability but potentially ensures that in the long run the concerns of less fortunate citizens are ignored. And, second, the increasing power of internet commentary risks warping the slow, fitful – but genuine – progress that China has made in recent years toward reforming its political and legal systems.
  • Topic: Public Opinion, Media, Propaganda, State Media
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Ashley Esarey
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: China’s local governments are facing a crisis of public con- fidence and have struggled to handle political dissent and popular protests. In an attempt to promote political stability, local officials around the country have utilized Twitter-like microblog sites (, weibo) to upgrade their capability to influence citizens and engage in rapid information management. Through the analysis of microblog- ging by prominent propagandists whose identities and professions are known to the public, this article finds some evidence that microblog- ging could be helping cadres to win hearts and minds, although such microblogging poses new risks to the state as netizens challenge propagandists and state policies in exchanges that reveal political pluralism and disapproval of state policies. While venting on weibo may enable people to blow off steam, the reluctance (or inability) of official microbloggers to engage their critics in meaningful dialogue suggests the limited utility of official microblogging as a means of furthering political stability through the improvement of state–society relations.
  • Topic: Protests, Propaganda, Local, Oppression
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jonathan Hassid, Sun Wanning
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Studies on public expression in China tend to focus on how the state and internet users (netizens) struggle over the limits of online expression. Few have systematically traced discourse competi- tion within state-imposed boundaries, particularly how the authoritar- ian state has adapted to manage, rather than censor, online expres- sion. This paper explores and evaluates the state’s attempts to ma- nipulate online expression without resorting to censorship and coer- cion by examining the role of internet commentators, known as the “fifty-cent army”, in Chinese cyberspace. To cope with the challenge of online expression, the authoritarian state has mobilized its agents to engage anonymously in online discussions and produce apparently spontaneous pro-regime commentary. However, due to a lack of proper motivation and the persistence of old propaganda logic, this seemingly smart adaptation has proven ineffective or even counter- productive: It not only decreases netizens’ trust in the state but also, ironically, suppresses the voices of regime supporters.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Internet, State Media, Cyberspace
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Orhan H Yazar
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: The regulatory agency responsible for prudential super- vision of the banks in China, the China Banking Regulatory Commis- sion (CBRC), is not an independent authority. The agency’s regula- tory actions are constrained by the central government, which has to balance the prudential and non-prudential consequences of bank regulation for its political survival. The conditions and limits of the government’s influence on the CBRC is analysed through an investi- gation of three regulatory cases. The conclusion is that the CBRC’s regulatory actions are determined by the relative importance of pru- dential outcomes for the government’s policy objectives.
  • Topic: Regulation, Finance, Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Banking
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Cora Lingling Xu
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article looks at identity constructions of mainland Chinese undergraduate students in a Hong Kong university. These students shared a “Hong Kong Dream” characterised by a desire for change in individual outlooks, a yearning for international exposure, and rich imaginations about Hong Kong and beyond. However, when their Hong Kong Dream met Hong Kong’s “anti-mainlandisa- tion discourse,” as was partially, yet acutely, reflected in the recent Occupy Central movement, most students constructed the simultan- eous identities of a “free” self that was spatially mobile and ideologi- cally unconfined and an “elite” self that was among the winners of global competition. This article argues that the identity constructions of these mainland Chinese students shed light on global student mo- bilisation and provide a unique, insider’s perspective into the integra- tion process between Hong Kong and the rest of the People’s Re- public of China.
  • Topic: Education, Globalization, Domestic politics, Students
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Hong Kong
  • Author: Anders Sybrandt Hansen
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article examines the experiences of Chinese elite uni- versity students abroad through the lens of temporality. In the strug- gle to get ahead, elite students are expected to carefully deploy their time. Studying abroad, it is argued, has become one more step in a culturally idealised temporal arrangement of how one is expected to go about advancing. The downside to this ethics of striving is shown to be a pervasive sense of restlessness (, fuzao). The article shows how relocating to a different life environment allowed a group of elite students to respond to their temporal predicament in existentially creative ways that registered socially as personal maturation. It is argued that these responses were set in motion by the students’ in- habiting an expanse of not-yet-purposeful time. Treating the tem- poral experience of Chinese elite students as a pronounced inflection of an increasingly global temporal mode of striving, the article en- quires into the temporality of the present human condition.
  • Topic: Education, Globalization, Ethics, Students
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Anni Kajanus
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article uses Mahler and Pessar’s (2001, 2006) model of “geography of power” to interrogate how the general dynamic of Chinese student migration generates a variety of experiences at the individual level. Each Chinese student-migrant embarks on their journey from a different position vis-à-vis the flows and interconnec- tions of the international education market. Some of them set out to achieve concrete goals, while others are motivated by a more intan- gible mission to become cosmopolitan subjects. As they move around, their shifting position in the hierarchies of nationality, class, gender, and generation influences their decision-making and their experiences. These power systems function simultaneously on mul- tiple geographical scales, exemplified by the contradictory ways gen- der operates in the family, education, work, and marriage. To further develop the connection this model makes between personal charac- teristics, cognitive processes, and various power systems, I draw at- tention to the politics of ordinary affects.
  • Topic: Education, Globalization, Culture, Geography, Students
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Stig Thogersen
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: The article is based on a longitudinal study of Chinese college students who studied abroad as part of their BA programme in Preschool Education. It first examines the Chinese discourse on preschool education in order to understand the current situation in the students’ professional field. The main section then discusses stu- dents’ attitudes to what they perceived to be key values and principles in early childhood education in the West: freedom, individual rights, equality, and creativity. Students generally expressed strong support for these values and wanted to reform Chinese institutions according- ly. The article argues, based on this case, that while Chinese students abroad may not see themselves as the vanguard of macro-level politi- cal reforms, some of them certainly want to play a role in the gradual transformation of Chinese institutions in their respective professional fields.
  • Topic: Education, Culture, Reform, Students
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Jamie Coates
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Chinese migrants are currently the largest group of non- Japanese nationals living in Japan. This growth is largely the result of educational migration, positioning many Chinese in Japan as student- migrants. Based on 20 months’ ethnographic fieldwork in Ikebukuro, Tokyo’s unofficial Chinatown, this paper explores the ways in which the phenomenology of the city informs the desire for integration amongst young Chinese living in Japan. Discussions of migrant inte- gration and representation often argue for greater recognition of marginalised groups. However, recognition can also intensify vulner- ability for the marginalised. Chinese student-migrants’ relationship to Ikebukuro’s streets shows how young mobile Chinese in Tokyo come to learn to want to be “unseen.” Largely a response to the visual dy- namics of the city, constituted by economic inequality, spectacle, and surveillance, the experiences of young Chinese students complicate the ways we understand migrants’ desires for recognition and integra- tion.
  • Topic: Education, Culture, Immigrants, Students
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia
  • Author: Heidi Ross
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper draws on the theory of ethnic enclaves to study Chinese international student communities and their role in constructing Chinese undergraduate student experiences on US campuses. Enclave theory has primarily been used by sociologists to study immigrant and diaspora populations, but it can also provide an important analytical tool for scholars examining the internationalisation of student populations in higher-education settings. Student interviews and participant observation at a representative research-intensive, doctoral-granting institution in the American Midwest indicate that institutional and media characterisations of Chinese international student communities as closed and segregated are far too simplistic. Chinese student enclaves provide their members with crucial information, support, and social spaces that help them adapt to – and in turn change – their host institutions. Chinese students are active participants in and creators of campus cultures that are often in- visible to university administrators, faculty, and peers.
  • Topic: Education, Migration, Immigration, Culture, Students
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, North America
  • Author: Herby Lai
  • Publication Date: 09-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Amidst political tensions between China and Japan, and against the backdrop of the patriotic education campaign in China that promotes a negative image of Japan as the victimiser, Chinese students in Japanese educational institutions study and work in Japan in a highly politicised context. In general, how they chose to interpret their experiences in Japan, and their views on history and controver- sial political issues involving China and Japan, demonstrates two levels of cosmopolitanism – namely, the ability and the willingness to en- gage with Japanese people on such issues, and reflexivity towards their own national identities. Meanwhile, some informants would deliberately avoid talking about history and controversial political issues involving China and Japan. While they lacked the willingness to engage with Japanese people on controversial issues, their keenness to separate their daily lives in Japan from the political context means they were also engaged in a reflexive reconfiguration of their national identities.
  • Topic: Education, Migration, Culture, Immigrants, Students, Social Identities
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia
  • Author: Angelo Gilles
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Guangzhou has become a key destination for sub-Saharan African traders. These traders have established multilocal forms of business organisation and, in so doing, have developed diverse prac- tices to overcome geographical, political and cultural boundaries. This paper focuses on these practices, looking at the ways in which the movements, relations and interactions within these organisational formations are produced, transformed and lived. A close ethnograph- ic examination was made of the livelihoods of 33 African traders from 13 sub-Saharan African countries. Through the concept of trans- locality, the organisational formations of these Africans are conceptu- alised as links between different places on a larger geographical scale; these links then meet on a local scale in the specific place of Guang- zhou. Following a relational understanding of spatial constructions in social science, these links are conceptualised as one of the main drivers for the social construction and transformation of the city as a trans- local trading place.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Culture, Urban, Local
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia
  • Author: Tabea Bork-Huffer
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Taking the examples of Chinese rural-to-urban migrant and African migrant businesspeople in Guangzhou, this article inquires into the commonalities and differences in the health status and health- care-seeking practices of both groups. While both populations of migrants are diverse and heterogeneous, there are many commonali- ties with regard to the challenges they face compared to the Chinese local population. Mixed-methods research frameworks and qualitative and quantitative methods were applied. While existing publications emphasise lacking financial access to healthcare, further individual and social factors account for migrants’ healthcare choices. Their access to healthcare can be improved only by introducing insurance schemes with portable benefits, providing localised and culturally adequate health services adapted to migrants’ specific needs and health risks, and enhancing patient orientation and responsiveness by health professionals.
  • Topic: Migration, Health Care Policy, Urban, Rural
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia
  • Author: Roberto Castillo
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article is an exploration into the personal aspirations that converge in Guangzhou’s African music scene. I argue that despite being often traversed, articulated, fuelled, and constrained by econ- omies and economic discourses, aspirations are not necessarily eco- nomic or rational calculations. I contend that the overarching trading narrative about “Africans in Guangzhou” has left little space for issues of agency, emotion, and aspiration to be considered in their own right. Drawing on a year of continuous ethnographic fieldwork, I show how aspirations are crucial arenas where the rationales behind transnational mobility are developed, reproduced, and transmitted. Indeed, aspira- tions can be thought of as “navigational devices” (Appadurai 2004) that help certain individuals reach for their dreams. By bringing the analysis of aspirations to the fore, I intend to provide a more complex and nuanced landscape of the multiple rationales behind African presence in Southern China; promote a better understanding (both conceptually and empirically) of how individuals navigate their social spaces and guide their transnational journeys; and draw attention to the incessant frictions and negotiations between individual aspirations while on the move and the constraints imposed by more structural imperatives.
  • Topic: Culture, Music, popular culture
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia