Asian Studies Seminar – 3 March 2021

You are warmly invited to the next Asian Studies seminar. Prof Sarah Dauncey will give a talk on her new book Disability in Contemporary China: Citizenship, Identity and Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2020), with a dialogue with Prof. Hangping Xu. 

Date and Time: Wednesday 3 March, 4-6 pm (UK time). 

Location: Online via Zoom

Zoom link for registration:


In Disability in Contemporary China: Citizenship, Identity and Culture, Sarah Dauncey offers the first comprehensive exploration of disability and citizenship in Chinese society and culture from 1949 to the present. Through the analysis of a wide variety of Chinese sources, from film and documentary to literature and life writing, media and state documents, she sheds important new light on the ways in which disability and disabled identities have been represented and negotiated over this time. She exposes the standards against which disabled people have been held as the Chinese state has grappled with expectations of what makes the ‘ideal’ Chinese citizen. From this, she proposes an exciting new theoretical framework for understanding disabled citizenship in different societies – ‘para-citizenship’. A far more dynamic relationship of identity and belonging than previously imagined, her new reading synthesises the often troubling contradictions of citizenship for disabled people – the perils of bodily and mental difference and the potential for personal and group empowerment.

Speakers bio: 

Sarah Dauncey is Professor of Chinese Society and Disability at the University of Nottingham. Her research focuses on disability in China, in particular the way in which the changing Chinese socio-political environment has transformed the cultural encoding of disability from the end of the Cultural Revolution. Her work has been supported by the British Academy, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, the Universities China Committee in London, the White Rose East Asia Centre and other organisations. She is co-editor of Writing Lives in China, 1600-2010: Histories of the Elusive Self (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), as well as various book chapters and articles in key Area Studies and Disability Studies journals. Her book Disability in Contemporary China: Citizenship, Identity and Culture was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. 

Hangping Xu is Assistant Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He specializes in modern and contemporary Chinese literary, cultural, and visual studies, comparative literature, and Taiwan Studies. His interdisciplinary research engages two significant turns in literary and cultural studies—namely, the affective and the ethical —by foregrounding disability as a mode of critique. He is currently completing his first book project entitled Broken Bodies as Agents: Disability Aesthetics and Politics in Modern Chinese Culture and Literature. Probing the narrative and symbolic centrality of disability in the Chinese political-moral imagination of the long twentieth century, it develops a critical genealogy of “Chinese crip figures” in transnational contexts. His publications have appeared in such venues as Modern Chinese Literature and Culture (MCLC), Frontiers of Literary Studies in China, and A Global History of Literature and the Environment (Cambridge University Press).