I am Bin Xu, Associate Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology at Emory University.
My research interests are at the intersection of social theory, cultural sociology, and political sociology. I am particularly interested in civil society, collective memory, disaster research, and symbolic politics.
My first book The Politics of Compassion: The Sichuan Earthquake and Civic Engagement in China (Stanford University Press, 2017) examines the huge wave of volunteering in the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China and how the volunteering is intertwined with the political relations between the state and the civil society. The book combines cultural sociology with extensive data from interviews, observations, and textual materials to examine how civically engaged citizens acted on the ground, how they understood the meaning of their action, and how the political context shaped both their actions and the meaning they attributed to them. It is available for order on Stanford University Press’s website. See a summary of the book HERE.
My second book, Chairman Mao’s Children: Generation and the Politics of Memory in China (Cambridge University Press, 2021), studies the collective memory of China’s “educated youth” (zhiqing) generation—the 17 million Chinese youth sent down to the countryside in the 1960s and 1970s. I draw on the data collected from 2007-2018, including life history interviews, ethnography, and archival research, to address how members of this important generation interpret meanings of their past difficulties and sufferings in the countryside, how those interpretations are represented and expressed in autobiographic memories, cultural objects, and commemorative activities, and what their memories tell us about this generation’s mentality. See a summary of the book HERE.
I currently am working on my third book, provisionally titled The Culture of Democracy: A Sociological Approach to Civil Society (under contract with Polity Press, in its acclaimed Cultural Sociology series). The book will provide a theoretical introduction to and discussion of the cultural sociology of civil society and takes a global perspective to discuss some pressing issues such as civility, authoritarianism, and polarisation.
Also my CV can be found HERE Updated!
Information about my current projects can be found HERE.
Information about my publications by subject can be found HERE
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