IAC Culture Talks: Inaugural Lecture by Professor Wanning Sun (Catch up Online)

Part 1: Presentation by Professor Wanning Sun

Part 2: Professor Wanning Sun in Conversation with Professor Jing Han

Part 3: Q&A

The event was held on Wednesday 28 June 2023.

Following the launch of IAC Art Talks, the Institute for Australian and Chinese Arts and Culture (IAC) at Western Sydney University is excited to launch another webinar lecture series focusing on research around various aspects of culture. The aim of IAC Culture Talks is to build up cultural knowledge and understanding of multiculturality through sharing recent studies of specific areas that will engage, inform and enlighten audiences so as to better relate to the world of diversity and understand humanities.

IAC Culture Talks is a cross-disciplinary series exploring a diverse range of topics from contemporary society in mainland China, the Chinese Cultural Renaissance Movement in Taiwan to cultural investigations across Asia. Specially invited speakers include leading researchers and experts in ethnographic research, international legal practice, social and cultural studies, feminist studies, ethnomusicological research, Chinese Australian studies and more.

The series will be held via Zoom Webinar to enable interstate, national and international access. Each lecture will be recorded with each recording adding to IAC resources on arts and culture for ongoing usage by the general public.

For the Inaugural Lecture, we are greatly honoured and privileged to have the renowned and widely published scholar of media and cultural studies, Professor Wanning Sun of the University of Technology Sydney (UTS). The lecture focused on Professor Sun’s latest publication Love Trouble: Inequality in China and Its Intimate Consequences. Four decades of economic reform have made China one of the most unequal countries but the impact of inequality is not just socioeconomic. Love Troubles is the first book to examine the emotional cost of this inequality to the intimate and emotional lives of people in China. Drawing on first-hand ethnographic research among rural migrant factory workers in the Pearl River Delta in southern China, Professor Sun provides a critical and insightful analysis of narratives about love, romance, and intimacy in contemporary China. This book not only reveals a cultural anthropologist approach to China’s social changes, but also presents a significant intellectual intervention into worldwide debates on inequality. In this lecture, Professor Sun took the audience to the site of her research and show them what she had learned from talking to and interacting with some of the rural migrant workers who produce our iPhones.


In this lecture, Professor Wanning Sun shares her experience of doing research as a cultural anthropologist studying social change in China. She takes the audience to the site of her research and show them what she has learned from talking to and interacting with some of the rural migrant workers who produce our iPhones. Her talk offers rare glimpses into the ways social and economic inequality impacts on rural migrant workers' intimate lives, their pursuit of love, and their ideas about romance.

About the Speaker

Wanning Sun

Wanning Sun is a Professor of Media and Communication Studies at the UTS. She has been a fellow of Australian Academy of the Humanities since 2016 and is currently a member of the ARC College of Experts (2020-2023). Professor Sun is best known in the field of China Studies for her ethnography of rural-to-urban migration and social inequality in contemporary China. She writes about Chinese diaspora, diasporic Chinese media, and Australia-China relations.

Wanning has produced a significant body of research on the cultural politics of inequality in China. This work can be found in Maid in China: Media, Morality and the Cultural Politics of Boundaries (2009), Subaltern China: Rural Migrants, Media and Cultural Practices (2014), and her edited volume Love Stories in China: The Politics of Intimacy in the Twenty-First Century (2020, with Ling Yang). Her latest book on this topic is Love Troubles: Inequality in China and Its Intimate Consequences (2023, Bloomsbury). Click on this link, and quote the code L0V3TRU85AU to get 35% discount of the book.

Over the past two decades, Professor Sun has spearheaded global diasporic Chinese-language media as an distinct area of research, with the publications of her first book Leaving China: Media, Migration, and Transnational Imagination (2002), and three edited Routledge volumes on this topic: Media and the Chinese Diaspora: Community, Communications and Commerce (2006), Media and Communication in the Chinese Diaspora: Rethinking Transnationalism (2016, with John Sinclair), WeChat and the Chinese Diaspora (2022, with Haiqing Yu), and Digital Transnationalism: Chinese-language Media in Australia (2023, with Haiqing Yu).

Professor Sun is also actively engaged in public debate, sharing her work with the broader community, and regularly contributing to high-profile policy journals, and media outlets such as the ABC and The Conversation. She writes a regular column for Crikey: https://www.crikey.com.au/author/wanning-sun/.