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Genia Kostka: Big data dreams and local reality in China

The event will be held in English. Genia Kostka lecture will be broadcasted live from 7 pm – if the livestream is not being displayed here, please reload this page. The recorded video will be uploaded to this website a few days after the event.

Digital technologies are rapidly transforming our social, economic and political lives. This is especially true in the case of China, where city governments have begun to experiment with digital technologies to harness the power of big data analytics for governing society. From using biometric checkpoints to track Muslim minorities, to using AI for intelligent traffic management, big data driven applications are mushrooming quickly in Chinese cities. What are China’s digital and big data ambitions and actual local realities? Are these digital experiments more ‘buzz and hype’ or real game changing? Do these technologies alter digital governance practices in authoritarian China and if so, how? Top-down or bottom-up mobilized state-led digitalization? Are digital technologies tools for convenience or control? And how does it alter state-society relations in China? Drawing from interviews, surveys, and a database of local digital initiatives across China, this talk will shed light on the intended and unintended consequences of incorporating digital technologies into local governance processes in Chinese cities.


Genia Kostka: Big data dreams and local reality in China
Tuesday, 15 June 2021 | 7 pm |

Genia Kostka is a Professor of Chinese Politics at the Freie Universität Berlin. Her research focuses on digital transformation, local governance, and environmental politics. She is particularly interested in how digital technologies are integrated into local decision-making and governance structures in China. Kostka has been awarded an European Research Council Grant (2020-2025) to study local experiments on governing with big data and AI in China.

Making Sense of the Digital Society

The current rapid pace of technological change creates enormous uncertainties – and thus the need for explanations that help us better understand our situation and shape the future. The Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society (HIIG) and the Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb) are therefore continuing the Lecture Series Making Sense of the Digital Society that was launched in 2017. The aim of the format is to develop a European perspective on the current processes of transformation and its societal impact.



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Event date

15.06.2021 | 7.00 pm – 8.30 pm ical | gcal


Livestream,,   Berlin


Christian Grauvogel

Former Head of Dialogue & Knowledge Transfer | Project Coordinator SET


This high-profile lecture series thrives to develop a European perspective on the processes of transformation that our societies are currently undergoing.


Once a month we publicly discuss the impact of digitalisation on the society. Therefore we invite special guests and engage in a dialogue with the audience.


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