New Beginnings for 2016 and Beyond

New Beginnings for 2016 and Beyond

Just yesterday, I had left the Starbucks not far from central Oxford and was headed to the town hall, apparently for “lunch”. Tracy got me into a room in the town hall, which was to be used in the afternoon for an event we would take part in. She asked me to come to the lectern for a photo opp. (You like doing that and giving speeches all the time!, she said, so on I went to “the set”. There was also virtually no-one else there, and it would be at least a full hour until the event would be underway, so we had plenty of time.)

I thought about using this pic (look at this great shot, my wife said to me) so to tell you all about a key shift in my life as I prepare for what’s next my end, career-wise. Now Tracy and I had just finished a few weeks where we consulted one other for solid plans. I myself am putting behind unpredictable times and have a fresh new vision, but also am true to that age-old adage — If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! I have to say she is far more optimistic than I dared imagine — and both of us were also realistic.

David Feng to Chair and Speak at China and the Changing Geopolitics of Global Communication Conference on 09 April 2016

David Feng to Chair and Speak at China and the Changing Geopolitics of Global Communication Conference on 09 April 2016

Although I’ve made some not-so-invisible changes to my main commitments, moving out of “theory / research-only” academia and being involved only in projects that yield actual, tangible results for the benefit of the general public, I still will be involved in my part of academia which involve speeches and lessons. This is why I’ve decided to be an active part of the upcoming China and the Changing Geopolitics of Global Communication conference. This is a unique event: both universities co-organising this are those I have academic affiliations to. It’s also a good way to transition academically from London to Beijing.

Check out the full schedule for details, and be sure to book yourself in for the event if you’re interested. I will be chairing Parallel Panel 2 (Cultures of communication) from 11:30 through to 13:00, and in the afternoon hour, I’ll have my 15 minute-presentation.

Upcoming China Media Centre Seminar: Michel Hockx Talk on 24 February 2016

Upcoming China Media Centre Seminar: Michel Hockx Talk on 24 February 2016

Once again, the China Media Centre has a seminar ready for all, and like last time, when I chaired the highly interactive talk with Vincent Ni, I’ll be chairing this one as well. We’re really honoured to have Professor Michel Hockx from SOAS with us.

As usual, this event is open to all members of the public.

Here’s the details:

China Media Centre 2016 Spring Seminar
WEB LITERATURE AND WORLD LITERATURE
Speaker: Prof Michel Hockx
Date: Wednesday, 24 February 2016
Time: 14:00 – 16:00 (with refreshments to follow)
Venue: A6.03, Maria Howlett Building, University of Westminster Harrow Campus
Chair: Dr David Feng

OPEN TO ALL

Chairing the China Media Centre’s First Seminar for Academic Year 2015-2016 – Speaker: Vincent Ni

Chairing the China Media Centre’s First Seminar for Academic Year 2015-2016 – Speaker: Vincent Ni

The average academic talk is where you’ve students all facing one way, staring at a speaker, and then trying to make sense of this. Then you realise that when I do seminars and events, I wanted to make it the exact way both the speaker and attendees want it. We decided shifting tables so that most of us ended up looking at one other — much like a semi-roundtable — would be the best idea. And that’s exactly how the classroom was arranged for the first China Media Centre seminar, which took place today.

Vincent Ni, who’s now with the BBC World Service, came today as speaker to deliver an extremely insightful talk — insightful as it was also thought-provoking and very much what you expected from a distinguished journalist with a lot of experience. He has covered the elections in Myanmar / Burma, the Arab Spring, and much more. He has also worked previously in China-based media, moving recently onwards to media based in the UK.

David Feng to Additionally Speak at 2nd Global China Dialogue in London on 23 November 2015

David Feng to Additionally Speak at 2nd Global China Dialogue in London on 23 November 2015

I have just been informed that in addition to being a discussant on the Civilised dialogue – transcultural and comparative panel at the upcoming UK-China Culture Exchange – 2nd Global China Dialogue: Transculturality and New Global Governance conference, I will also be speaking at the next panel on Urbanisation and the Fabric of China’s Internet.

Most of you know that I’ve been deeply involved in this on two fronts: riding around the country by HSR (and seeing how cities have in essence sprung up from bang in the middle of nowhere — Wuqing is your classic case study) — and a focus on the Internet in China. I’ve also taken a good look at how the two likely match up, so this will be quite a novel presentation.

I am expected to speak in the timeslot between 15:45 and 16:30.

Upcoming China Media Centre Seminar: Vincent Ni Talk on 02 December 2015

Upcoming China Media Centre Seminar: Vincent Ni Talk on 02 December 2015

For academic year 2015-2016 here at the University of Westminster, I will be in charge of seminars at the China Media Centre. We’re very honoured to have Vincent Ni as our first speaker, and I’ll actually be chairing this very one on 02 December 2015.

Here’s the details:

China Media Centre 2015 Winter Seminar
“JUST WRITE WHAT YOU’VE SEEN”:
 THE BBC AND ITS CHINA COVERAGE
Speaker: Mr Vincent Ni
Date: Wednesday, 02 December 2015
Time: 14:00 – 16:00 (with refreshments to follow)
Venue: A6.07, Maria Howlett Building, University of Westminster Harrow Campus
Chair: Dr David Feng

OPEN TO ALL

David Feng to Be Part of UK-China Cultural Exchange 2nd Global China Dialogue

David Feng to Be Part of UK-China Cultural Exchange 2nd Global China Dialogue

I will be part of the UK-China Culture Exchange – 2nd Global China Dialogue: Transculturality and New Global Governance conference. This will be held at the Wolfson Auditorium in the British Academy on 23 & 24 November 2015.

My role at this event at this moment will be as discussant of the second forum on the first day — Civilised dialogue – transcultural and comparative.

Here’s a quick briefer into the conference

My, That’s A Lot for Today

My, That’s A Lot for Today

I did something I haven’t been doing for a fair while today at 14:30: speaking in front of an audience of 100+ people. (Stage fright is a one-off thing, though; never mind my last speaking gig in front of close to 100+ was in spring 2014…)

My 30-minute “blah” was about a myriad of things — all related to media, journalism, and the like. Things such as framing the news, covert (and not so covert) agendas, and pigeon-holing people. Things such as really trying to make sense of anything from the refugee crisis in Europe to Corbyn leading Labour (what the media thought, and what the academics thought). Things such as how social media was such a big game-changer, and how the Chinese Great Firewall couldn’t 100% define what happened inside the People’s Republic.

China Media Theory?

For academics, China resembles this huge country where you are just captivated — by trains virtually flying by one moment, then huge airports to make Boris mad (sorry, Gatwick), then off-colour-looking buildings hosting Central Television. There is a lot of the glitz and glamour, but remarkably little in the way of theory.

I’ve just been dipping my feet in the China media world, but I have yet to see a solid, oft-cited Chinese-made theory about the Internet and communications (as in: the way we speak; or “talk the talk, walk the walk”). Instead, many a Chinese university freely cite McLuhan, Habermas, or Marx.

Most of China tends to default to citing Marx as often as possible. You can’t blame them: it’s “enshrined” in the country’s constitution, and the replacing of this idea with Western values is almost guaranteed to make Beijing uncomfortable. Yet what are missing here are more “Internet-savvy” / “Internet-ready” ideas, as well as a very “with Chinese characteristics” theory (which should be rather apolitical if possible).

China is indeed in quite a unique situation.

Trying to Make Sense of the Jing

Trying to Make Sense of the Jing

China is this weird and wonderful country where it’s a challenge to make sense, at times, of what’s coming out from Zhongnanhai. Mixed in at times horrifically hard-to-understand officialspeak are national policies of a system that, whilst grey on the outside, actually works in more and more of the country.

I’ve spent 14 years in China in one go. If you’re willing to make sense of how this nation is supposed to be made sense of, here are the media resources I often tune into (in Chinese, as this is what you’d want, right?… If you were serious about China, you’d have learnt the language!)…

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