Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

Information Fantasies

Precarious Mediation in Postsocialist China

2019
Author:

Xiao Liu

Information Fantasies

A groundbreaking, alternate history of information technology and information discourses

Information Fantasies offers a revisionist account of the emergence of the “information society,” arguing that it was developed out of a set of techno-cultural imaginations and practices that arrived alongside postsocialism. Ranging over forgotten science fiction, unjustly neglected films, corporeal practices such as qigong, scientific journals, advertising, and cybernetic theories, it constructs an alternate genealogy of digital and information imaginaries.

Xiao Liu’s creative, erudite, and richly researched book entirely reconfigures our understanding of the media landscape in 1980s China. Her dense explorations of how new media emerged, coalesced, and interacted in this crucial period range over multiple formats—forgotten science fiction stories, neglected films, photographs, videotapes, computers, television and teletext, qigong, scientific journals, advertising, and cybernetic theories—to draw science and aesthetics into a charged and illuminating encounter. The result is unquestionably one of the most original works to appear in Chinese cultural studies since the millennium.

Margaret Hillenbrand, University of Oxford

Although the scale of the information economy and the impact of digital media on social life in China today could pale that of any other country, the story of their emergence in the post-Mao sociopolitical environment remains untold. Information Fantasies offers a revisionist account of the emergence of the “information society,” arguing that it was not determined by the technology of digitization alone but developed out of a set of techno-cultural imaginations and practices that arrived alongside postsocialism.

Anticipating discussions on information surveillance, data collection, and precarious labor conditions today, Xiao Liu goes far beyond the current scholarship on internet and digital culture in China, questioning the limits of current new-media theory and history, while also salvaging postsocialism from the persistent Cold War structure of knowledge production.

Ranging over forgotten science fiction, unjustly neglected films, corporeal practices such as qigong, scientific journals, advertising, and cybernetic theories, Information Fantasies constructs an alternate genealogy of digital and information imaginaries—one that will change how we look at the development of the postsocialist world and the emergence of digital technologies.

Information Fantasies

Xiao Liu is assistant professor of East Asian studies at McGill University.

Information Fantasies

Xiao Liu’s creative, erudite, and richly researched book entirely reconfigures our understanding of the media landscape in 1980s China. Her dense explorations of how new media emerged, coalesced, and interacted in this crucial period range over multiple formats—forgotten science fiction stories, neglected films, photographs, videotapes, computers, television and teletext, qigong, scientific journals, advertising, and cybernetic theories—to draw science and aesthetics into a charged and illuminating encounter. The result is unquestionably one of the most original works to appear in Chinese cultural studies since the millennium.

Margaret Hillenbrand, University of Oxford

Information Fantasies

Contents
Introduction: “Information Pot” and Postsocialist Politics of Mediation
1. Extrasensory Powers, Magic Waves, and Information Explosion: Imagining the Digital
2. The Curious Case of a Robot Doctor: Rethinking Labor, Expert Systems, and the Interface
3. The “Ultrastable System” and the New Cinema
4. Affective Form: Advertising, Information Aesthetics, and Experimental Writing in the Market Economy
5. Liminal Mediation and the Cinema Redefined
Epilogue: The Virtual Past(s) of the Future(s)
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index