Research Interests

  • Chinese thought and letters, with a focus on Chinese understandings of the human and modern uses of the Chinese intellectual tradition
  • literary theory and critical inquiry, with a focus on differences between Chinese and Euro-American styles of engagement and writing
  • rethinking modern Chinese history, an international collaborative project undertaken with a group of  China historians re-examining the legacy of key arguments, seminal works and changing views of history and historical practice
  • digital cultures, especially online Chinese dissent, intellectual polemics and cultural flows between China, South Korea and Japan

Competitive Grants

 National (Australian Research Council)

  • 2009-11 Sole investigator Discovery grant: Digital Dissent in Sino-Cyberspace
  • 2005-7 Co-recipient (1 of 5 Chief Investigators) Linkage grant: The Social and Business Implications of Extending China’s Social Security System
  • 2002-4 (with Partner Investigator, Geremie R. Barmé) Discovery grant: Making a Spectacle of Disagreement: Media and Controversy in Modern Chinese Thought
  • 1994 Sole investigator, ARC small grant: “The Influence of Theory on Modern Chinese Literature: A Critical Review of Interpretation and Institutional Practice.”


  • 1994 Co-recipient of a CAUT grant: “An interactive Chinese language teaching methodology.”
  • 1990 Co-recipient of Victorian Education Foundation Grant for establishing a Business Chinese Communication Database

Conference and Seminar Presentations


  • 2013 keynote speaker, “Journeying with Lu Xun”, Chinese Studies Association of Australia Biennial Conference, Hobart 
  • 2012 co-presenter, “Re-reading Levenson: A Conversation,” special seminar at University of California, Berkeley
  • 2012 keynote speaker “The Dynamics of Dissent”, Modes of Activism and Engagement in the Chinese Public Sphere, National University of Singapore.
  • 2011 “Knowing how to be”, at Chinese Thought as Global Theory, National University of Singapore.
  • 2010 “Lu Xun’s Human Path,” at Humanistic International: Humanism, China, Globalism (5-6 March 2010, Harvard University)
  • 2010 “Homo Dissensum Significans: The Perils of Taking a Stand in China”, at Chinese Elites and their Rivals: Past, Present and Future (19-20 July, 2010, University of Melbourne)
  • 2010 “Ways of Being Human in Chinese” (in Chinese) 16 September 2010, at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Fudan University.
  • 2010 “Perilous Passion: Lu Xun and his Critics”, The Passion of Politics, (ANU China Institute, Canberra, December 7-9, 2009).
  • 2009 “The Human as the Benevolent: Confucian Legacies and Intellectual Publicity in China”, invited public lecture sponsored by the University of Tasmania (Hobart, 5 October 2009)
  • 2009 “Certitude and Linguistic Play in Chinese Critical Inquiry,” Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference(Chicago, 26-29 March 2009). This roundtable on Worrying about China was sponsored by the AAS China and Inner Asia Council.
  • 2008 (with Geremie R Barmé), “Of One Mind: Mao Zedong and Lu Xun” Key Thinkers Seminar Series (ANU, Canberra, 15April 2008)
  • 2008 “Affirming the Human in China” Human Rights and China (Claremont McKenna College, 6-7 March 2008)
  • 2007 “What Happens to Democracy when It Becomes Minzhu?,” Critics, Sceptics and Enemies of Democracy(University of Sydney, 12 October 2007)
  • 2005 (with Gaby Ramia, Chris Nyland) “Internal Migration and Social Security Compliance in China’, at Globalisation and Labour Mobility in India and China (Monash, Caulfield, September 2005)
  • 2004 “Coping with Theory: The Language of Critical Inquiry and China” at Knowledge, Culture, Power: the Politics of Cultural Studies in the Asian Region (ANU, Canberra, 22-24 October 2004)
  • 2004 “Correct ideas and Social Practice” (with Ingrid Nielsen and Chris Nyland) at International Workshop on Social Protection in South Asia, China and Malaysia, Monash, Clayton, 10 June 2004)
  • 2001 “Anticipating Community, Producing Dissent” at China’s Intellectuals and Social Power in the 21st Century, Colorado College, 26-28 October 2001
  • 2001 “Have We Been Noticed Yet? Intellectual Contestation and the Chinese Web” (with Geremie Barmé) atChinese Intellectuals between the State and the Market, Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University, 30 June-2 July 2001
  • 2000 “Liang Qichao in Australia” at the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation Conference, Melbourne, 1-2 July 2000
  • 1996 “Western Truths, Chinese Patterns” at the international workshop Public Morality and Transcultural Interaction: Australia/Asia, organized by the Centre for Philosophy and Public Issues, University of Melbourne, 12-13 July 1996.
  • 1996 “The Homelessness of Secular Theory” at the national one-day conference Postmodernity and the Public, organized by the School of English, LaTrobe University, 31 May 1996.
  • 1994 “The Chinese World and Chineseness” – invited seminar, Institute of South-East Asian Studies, Singapore, 14 December 1994
  • 1994 “Chinese Culture and Postcolonial Identity” – invited seminar, Department of Comparative Literature, University of Hong Kong, 8 January 1994
  • 1993 “Postcoloniality and the Narration of Chinese Nationhood” – invited seminar, presented in Chinese, Centre for Comparative Literatures and Cultures, Peking University, 12 December 1993


  • 2013 “Levenson and Lu Xun on Why Remembrance Matters”, as part of the “Communist China and its Modern Fate” panel, Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, San Diego
  • 2012 discussant, The Funhouse Mirror: The Making and Reception of Chinese Visual Humour, ANU
  • 2012 discussant, The Individual, the Nation and All that is Under Heaven, East China Normal University, Shanghai.
  • 2011 “The Fragility of Flourishing”, as part of the roundtable discussion on Shengshi Zhongguo: Flourishing China, myths and realities, Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference, Honolulu
  • 2008 (with Guanjun Wu) “Affirming Chinese Identity in a Language of Violence: Reflections on Writings by China’s New Nationalists,” Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia (Melbourne, 4-7 July 2008)
  • 2007 “Desiring Perfection: Chinese Thought and Its Self-Oriented Trajectory,” Chinese Visions on a Planetary Scale (15-17 August 2007), conference co-organizer (with Geremie Barmé and Timothy Cheek
  • 2006 (with M.E. Davies and Young-A Cho) “Hallyu, Harisu and Ballyhoo: Marketing and Representing Gender Variance in South Korea”, Media Flows in the East Asian Region (6-7 August 2005), conference co-organizer (with Alison Tokita and Young-A Cho)
  • 2005 “What Price Deconstruction? Reflections on a certain Chinese intellectual resistance to the impossibility of closure” at Cultural Borders and Bridges: Europe and Asia (Monash, Clayton, 4-5 November 2005), conference co-organizer.
  • 2004 “Theory and its Catalytic Function in Chinese Discourse” at the Association of Asian Studies Annual Conference (San Diego March 2004)
  • 2001 “Doing China: Representations of Nation and Nationalism” at Esthétique du Divers: International Conference on Comparative Literature, Peking University, 7-10 April 2001
  • 2000 “The Need For History: Contemporary Chinese Rituals of Intellectual Affirmation” at Reading and Society in the Chinese-Speaking World: Histories and Literatures, an international symposium, Australian National University, 2-3 December 2000
  • 1999 “The Distractions of Multicultural Flair: Elusive Political Constraints on Cultural Production in Singapore” at the international conference Re-imagining Multiculturalism Monash University, Melbourne, 4-6 October 1999.
  • 1995 “The Subject of Culture: Personality in Chinese Literary Discourse” was presented at the Biennial Conference of the Chinese Studies Association of Australia, Macquarie University, 5-7 July 1995
  • 1994 Discussant at the regional symposium Problematizing Culture: Media, Identity and the State in South-East Asia, held at the Institute of South-East Asian Studies, Singapore, 28-29 November 1994
  • 1993 “Reading Culture and Identity within the Post-Colonial Frame: An Interrogation of `The Chinese World'” was presented at the symposium on Colonialism, Postcolonialism and the Chinese World, Australian National University, September 1993
  • 1993 “Discourse, Protocol and the Law of the Father” was presented at the Biennial Conference of the Chinese Studies Association of Australia, Griffith University, July 1993
  • 1992 “The Eloquent Self: Preoccupations with Authenticity” presented at the Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia, University of New England, Armidale, July 1992