I am currently developing a book manuscript exploring Chinese digital aspirations. It draws on my PhD research, which was funded by the Max Planck Society, and examines moral tensions caused by the Chinese government’s effort to establish a post-industrial digital economy. By examining how the Chinese Internet simultaneously sustains hopes and reveals anxieties, the monograph considers how digital technologies mediate contemporary Chinese aspirations.
Building on data collected during thirteen months of fieldwork in Beijing, I analyze how digitality invests aspirational projects with a sense of possibility, mediates between the needs of personal and national aspirations, and articulates aspirational imaginaries. Widespread digital optimism, which sees the Internet as a nearly unlimited economic opportunity, I contend, tends to bracket more corporeal dimensions and limitations of aspiration, especially those related to gender. Ultimately, I argue, understanding the role of digital technologies in China’s project of modernization, is central to understanding contemporary Chinese aspirations.