Ya-Wen Lei is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University, and is affiliated with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard. She holds a J.S.D. from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Michigan. Her Ph.D dissertation won the 2014 American Sociological Association Dissertation Award, and her her new book has won the 2018 Distinguished Book Award, Sociology of Law Section of the American Sociological Association and the 2018 Gordon Hirabayashi Human Rights Book Award, Human Rights Section of the American Sociological Association.
The Contentious Public Sphere: Law, Media, and Authoritarian Rule in China
Despite ongoing censorship and repression, public opinion and debate in China has become increasingly common and consequential. How did this happen? Professor Ya-Wen Lei, drawing on her new book The Contentious Public Sphere, will discuss how the Chinese state mobilized law, the media, and the Internet to further an authoritarian project of modernization, but in so doing, inadvertently created a nationwide public sphere in China—one the state must now endeavor to control. She will examine how this unruly sphere has influenced Chinese politics and the ways that the state has responded.