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Kevin O'Brien: Politics at the Boundary


30 June 2011

The state is a famously elusive concept. One way to understand a state is to view it from below, from the perspective of people advocating change.

In this seminar, Prof. O'Brien suggests, in China, lawyers, journalists and NGO leaders who operate at the boundary of the acceptable are attentive to signals about what the authorities will tolerate. At the border of the ordinary and the forbidden, the Chinese state is not the high-capacity juggernaut familiar from the headlines, but a hodgepodge of disparate actors ambivalent about what types of activism it can live with.

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