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A Eulogy for Scallion: Food Shortage and its Parodies during the Shanghai Covid Lockdown (Minhua Ling, Institute for Advanced Study)
Tuesday, April 04, 2023, 04:00pm - 05:30pm
Contact Louisa Schein (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

This is part of Louisa Schein's class "Anthropology of China" and Hieu Phung's class "Global East Asia". The talk is open to the public. Everybody is welcome. It is generously co-sponsored by Rutgers Global.



In April 2022, over 25 million residents in Shanghai, China’s financial and business center, found themselves in a surreal situation in which they could not secure staple food and fresh groceries for days and even weeks after the municipal government ordered a city-wide lockdown to contain the country’s largest coronavirus infection since the COVID pandemic began. Stringent lockdown measures not only constrained personal mobility but broke down food supply chains. Infrastructures built to facilitate trades are seized to obstruct mobility of goods and people. A once vibrant market economy was suspended and replaced by a partial state ration system managed by neighborhood committees, the lowest level of governing agents in urban China. The process was chaotic, and the consequence catastrophic. Drawing from online blogs, social media posts, and art works by Shanghai residents, it examines the survival culture among urbanites under the zero-Covid policies and sheds light on the ways through which food-centered humor communicated about authoritarianism and fostered the development of new subjectivities despite strong censorship and digital surveillance.


Ling Minhua is an anthropologist teaching and writing on the processes and sociocultural ramifications of urbanization and migration. Her research interests include mobility, inequality, sustainability, identity, foodways, and state-society relations among others. Besides multiple single-authored journal articles published in international journals like The China JournalAnthropological QuarterlyThe China QuarterlyUrban Studiespositions: asia critique, and HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, her book The Inconvenient Generation: Migrant Youth Coming of Age on Shanghai’s Edge (Stanford University Press 2020) offers the first longitudinal study of China's second-generation rural-to-urban migrants navigating from schools to the labor and consumer markets and how they made sense of everyday practices of urban inclusion and exclusion in late socialism. She received PhD in anthropology from Yale University before joining the faculty of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, serving as Assistant Professor (2013-20) and Associate Professor (2020-22) in the Centre for China Studies. She will join the Department of Anthropology and Sociology in the Geneva Graduate Institute as Associate Profession in the fall of 2023 after finishing up her year-long fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2022-23), where she has been working on multiple writing projects including a second book on socioecological transformation in rural China and the politics of Chinese dream after three decades of rural-urban migration and state-led urbanization.

Location  Ruth Adams Building (RAB 001)