The Contentious Public Sphere: Law, Media, and Authoritarian Rule in China

April 16, 2018 -
4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

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. Professor Lei will examine how this unruly sphere has influenced Chinese politics and the ways that the state has responded.

About the speaker: 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. Trained in both law and sociology, she holds a J.S.D. from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Michigan.

Download an event flyer (pdf | png).

Contact name


  • Duke University Center for International and Global Studies
  • Asian/Pacific Studies Institute