The Promise and Perils of Media

Chinese Dragon Bas-Relief

The Promise and Perils of Media

In Dialogue with China: Art, Culture, Politics
Wednesday, Mar 9, 2022 4:00 pm

What role do new and emerging forms of media play in shaping our perceptions of China’s complex contemporary reality? This conversation features panelists who have lived successful lives as academics publishing thoughtful books and essays, while also producing newer forms of media, including nuanced documentaries and influential websites. Speakers explore how the formats, origins, and conventions specific to various media platforms affect public opinion about China, both within and outside the Sinosphere. They also offer cautionary tales about the facile analyses, attention-grabbing stories, and truncated sound bites and posts that drive today's media.

This event is part of a yearlong series grounded in the conviction that for the United States to engage in dialogue with China has become essential. If we are not simply to challenge but to co-exist with China, we need a better understanding of the country’s complex contemporary reality — which in turn requires engagement with the longstanding historical and cultural roots from which today's reality has sprung. 

Complicating this project is the fact that over the past thirty years, much of what we thought we knew about China’s past and present has changed dramatically. From ancient trade routes, to the role of classical learning, to the May Fourth Movement, to the notion of democracy in a Chinese context, many of the major phenomena in Chinese history and society have been significantly reconceptualized by scholars.

In Dialogue with China: Art, Culture, Politics brings together Chinese and Western panelists to engage in cutting-edge dialogue on the history and current state of Chinese art, culture, and politics. Offering innovative, thoughtful approaches to the study of China, the conversations aim to provide rich intellectual resources as the US and China chart an unknown but surely entangled future.


David Ownby is professor of Chinese history at the University of Montréal. He is the editor and translator of Xu Jilin's groundbreaking 2018 book, Rethinking China's Rise: A Liberal Critique. Ownby is well-known for his website Reading the China Dream, which explores intellectual life in contemporary China and spotlights areas of resistance in the Sinosphere. 

Documentary filmmaker Carma Hinton grew up in Beijing and has co-directed 13 documentary films on China. Her works include The Gate of Heavenly Peace, on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests; Morning Sun, on the Cultural Revolution; and Small Happiness, on the sexual politics of rural China. Her numerous honors include two Peabody Awards, the American Historical Association’s John E. O’Connor Film Award, and a National News and Documentary Emmy.

Cosponsored by the Social Science Matrix.

Film Series: Chinese Portraits

In conjunction with the Townsend Center's series In Dialogue with China: Art, Culture, Politics, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive presents the film series Chinese Portraits, which offers a multifaceted view of China in various eras. Tickets and more information are available at the BAMPFA China Portraits link.

The Promise and Perils of Media

820 Social Sciences Building


Matrix is located on the 8th floor of the Social Sciences Building (formerly Barrows Hall), on the southern edge of the UC Berkeley campus.

The elevator to our entrance is located on the east end of the building. You can alternately take an elevator to the seventh floor and come up the stairs.