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James Cuffe

James Cuffe

Short Bio

James Cuffe BA, MA, MBS, HDip is a Philosophical Anthropologist currently completing his PhD at the National University of Ireland: Cork (UCC) on the dynamic between social change and technology in contemporary China. He has taught in UCC School of Asian Studies, UCC School of Sociology and Philosophy and in University College Dublin at the Irish Institute of Chinese Studies. He is an editor for the International Political Anthropology book series on Contemporary Mimetic Revival. His research interests include Chinese Philosophy, Social Theory, and Contemporary Chinese Society & Culture. For more info see

Title of research

Communications Technology and Social Change in Modern China

Short abstract of project

My dissertation investigates the role communications technology plays in social change in China and as a concept in academic discourses on China. My inquiry focuses on Western academic discourse and its presumptive ethnocentric account of social development as correlated with increasing technological complexity. The prevalence of positing a correlation between social change and the impacts of technology is detrimental within the field of China Studies in understanding how China views itself and its relation with the West. The investigation seeks to explicate the role of communications technology, its spread and its effects in order to elucidate in a reflexive manner the prescriptive understanding anthropologists bring to the field in the contemporary world. I illustrate how the modern ideology of ‘progress’ arises in China in a ‘domesticated’ form and trace the impact or role of communications technology at pivotal moments in modern Chinese history, including a project carried out at the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. The claim of many (Western) China commentators that information and communications technology has an emancipatory liberative effect is seen to be problematic at best. I aim to continue this research after completion of my doctorate exploring the problems of ‘comparative’ research on China from European/’Western’ perspectives.


  • "Beauty and Careful Representation: Interpreting the Social and the Cosmic", Chapter in Reclaiming Beauty: Essays in Political Anthropology Volume I, Editors: James Cuffe & Agnes Horvath, Special Edition Book Series of the Journal of International Political Anthropology, Ficino Publications: 2012
  • The Politics of Imaging Asia – A review; Book Review of The Politics of Imaging Asia by Wang Hui, Edited by Theodore Huters, (Harvard: 2011) Journal of Chinese Political Science [JCPS], Expected Publication Date: JCPS, Vol. 17, 2012, No. 1
  • Paper titled: “Pathologies of Language in Contemporary China”, Presented at Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilisation International Conference, University College Cork, Cork, October 2011
  • The Chinese Communist Party as Organizational Emperor by Zheng Yongnian – A review; Book review for Online Arts & Social Sciences Journal Aigne-, 2011,, Published under the name James O’Duibh (Cuffe)
  • Paper titled: “Storytelling, Technology & Representation in Contemporary China”, Presented at British Annual China Studies Conference, Edinburgh University, Edinburgh, October 2011
  • ‘Historical Anthropology and Politics of Identity among the Chinese Mestizos of Manila’; Book Review of Chinese and Chinese Mestizos in Manila, by Chu, R. T. (Brill: 2010) Journal of International Political Anthropology [IPA] IPA Journal Vol. 4, 2011, No 1
  • ‘爱尔兰与中国的关系’ - [Sino-Irish Economic Relations] Chapter in 中爱关系 : 跨文化视角; 北京 : 世界知识出版社 ,2011年 12月版 Edited by Wang Zhanpeng Published under the name 孔智慕 (Kong, Zhimu / James Cuffe)
  • Norbert Elias: Post-philosophical Sociology – A Review, Book Review in Journal of International Political Anthropology IPA Journal, Vol. 4, 2010, No 2
  • Paper titled: “Irish-China Economic Relations; Irish Asian-Strategy Fails China” Presented at the inaugural China-Ireland Annual Conference, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Beijing, December 2009
  • ‘Modern Sino-Irish Relations’ Chapter 6 by James Cuffe in The Irish Asia Strategy and its China Relations; Rozenburg: 2010 Edited by Fan Hong and Jörn-Carsten Gottwald