East Asia by the Book! CEAS Author Talks: Aynne Kokas - "Trafficking Data" - Johanna Sirera Ransmeier

Monday, November 7, 2022 - 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Aynne Kokas

Aynne Kokas will discuss her book Trafficking Data: How China is Winning the Battle for Digital Sovereignty. She will be joined in conversation by Johanna Sirera Ransmeier

Presented in partnership with the Center For East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago

This is an in-person event and will be held at the Franke Institute for the Humanities. Masks are recommended per UChicago Library protocol, but not required. 


About the book: On August 6, 2020, the Trump Administration issued a ban on TikTok in the United States, requiring that the owner—Beijing-based Bytedance—sell the company to American investors or shut it down. American suitors like Walmart and Oracle tried to make a deal with Bytedance to keep the platform operating in the U.S., but the Chinese government refused the sale on national security grounds. looks at how technology firms in the two largest economies in the world—the United States and China—have exploited government policy (and the lack thereof) to gather information on citizens, putting US national security at risk. Professor Kokas argues that U.S. government leadership failures, Silicon Valley's disruption fetish, and Wall Street's addiction to growth have fueled China's technological goldrush. In turn, American complacency yields an unprecedented opportunity for Chinese firms to gather data in the United States and quietly send it back to the Chinese government who capitalize on this data for political gain.

About the author: Aynne Kokas is the C.K. Yen Professor at the Miller Center, the director of the UVA East Asia Center, and an associate professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. Kokas’ research examines Sino-U.S. media and technology relations. Kokas is a non-resident scholar at Rice University’s Baker Institute of Public Policy, a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a fellow in the National Committee on United States-China Relations’ Public Intellectuals Program. She has received fellowships from the Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, Mellon Foundation, Social Science Research Council, Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Japan’s Abe Fellowship, and other international organizations. Her writing and commentary have appeared globally in more than 50 countries and 15 languages. In the United States, her research and writing appear regularly in media outlets including CNBC, NPR’s Marketplace, The Washington Post, and Wired. She has testified before the Senate Finance Committee, House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the U.S. International Trade Commission.

About the interlocutor: Johanna Ransmeier Associate Professor of History and the College at the University of Chicago. Her research explores the relationship between family life and the law in modern China, often through the lens of crime. She is currently completing a book on the trafficking of people in North China during the late Qing and Republican period. Transactions in people remained an intimate and essential part of life for many throughout this time of transition. In this book she demonstrates that despite traffickers, most frequent protestations poverty was not solely to blame. Traditional Chinese family structure itself enabled a highly flexible market for everyone from slaves, servants, wives, concubines, wet nurses, prostitutes, private drivers, funeral musicians, and apprentice street performers.

Event Location: 
Franke Institute for the Humanities
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637