Field: Modern Chinese History; Advisor: Lean; Year: 2017
Chuan Xu is a doctoral student of modern Chinese history interested in material culture, critical theory, media archaeology, history of information, and history of technology. Before joining Columbia, he received his B.A. and M.A. in History at Stanford University. His current research focuses on cassette tapes in the early post-Mao period. By analyzing how ordinary people interacted with cassettes, he seeks to reveal the political, cultural, and moral implications of the object's material affordances. Beyond his current project, Chuan is broadly interested in technologies of governance and control, including practices influenced by cybernetics and system theories. As an aspiring scholar, he hopes to bring history, art history, and media studies into conversation to demonstrate the recursive power relationships between our mundane lives and the world's material infrastructure.