What We Are Reading Today: Blockchain Chicken Farm by Xiaowei Wang

Short Url
Updated 18 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Blockchain Chicken Farm by Xiaowei Wang

In Blockchain Chicken Farm, technologist and writer Xiaowei Wang explores the political and social entanglements of technology in rural China.

Her discoveries force her to challenge the standard idea that rural culture and people are backward, conservative and intolerant. 

“Instead, she finds that rural China has not only adapted to rapid globalization but has actually innovated the technology we all use today,” said a review in goodreads.com. “This is a very insightful, beautifully written book about technological advances in rural China.” 

 Accompanied by humorous “Sinofuturist” recipes that frame meals as they transform under new technology, Blockchain Chicken Farm is an original and probing look into innovation, connectivity, and collaboration in the digitized rural world.

Clive Thompson said in a review for The New York Times that Wang “has written a nuanced and thought-provoking account, and it is not easy to tell, after you’re done reading it, how rural China will fare — whether its tiptoe toward prosperity and tech savviness is durable.”


What We Are Reading Today: Gentlemen Revolutionaries by Tom Cutterham

Updated 20 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Gentlemen Revolutionaries by Tom Cutterham

In the years between the Revolutionary War and the drafting of the Constitution, American gentlemen—the merchants, lawyers, planters, and landowners who comprised the independent republic’s elite—worked hard to maintain their positions of power. Gentlemen Revolutionaries shows how their struggles over status, hierarchy, property, and control shaped the ideologies and institutions of the fledgling nation.

Tom Cutterham examines how, facing pressure from populist movements as well as the threat of foreign empires, these gentlemen argued among themselves to find new ways of justifying economic and political inequality in a republican society. At the heart of their ideology was a regime of property and contract rights derived from the norms of international commerce and 18th-century jurisprudence. But these gentlemen were not concerned with property alone. They also sought personal prestige and cultural preeminence. Cutterham describes how, painting the egalitarian freedom of the republic’s “lower sort” as dangerous licentiousness, they constructed a vision of proper social order around their own fantasies of power and justice.

 In pamphlets, speeches, letters, and poetry, they argued that the survival of the republican experiment in the US depended on the leadership of worthy gentlemen and the obedience of everyone else.

Lively and elegantly written, Gentlemen Revolutionaries demonstrates how these elites, far from giving up their attachment to gentility and privilege, recast the new republic in their own image.