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Recording Civic Action in China Chinese NPO web archiving project
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This is a digital collection of archived websites and social media of selected Chinese grassroots non-government organizations. Currently the collection includes complete captures of 200 NGOs in six areas since 2015--gender, environment, education, labor, rural development and health. It is a growing collection with continuing addition of new content. A bibliography of scholarly works on Chinese NGOs and emerging civil society that published in recent 30 years and a timeline of critical milestone event in the history of Chinese grassroots NGO development, including laws, regulations and government policy, establishment of major NGOs, important conferences and high impact events, are also presented on this exhibition.

This collection has the distinction of tracing and gathering information for the same groups of organizations repeatedly at multiple points in time, thus provides scholars and practitioners a rare opportunity to observe the longitudinal evolution and transformation of China’s civic sphere. However, please note, due to various issues, including unstable internet connection, still developing crawling technology, obstruction of access, quality of the captures and data vary. Our goal is to capture as much as the technology and access allow.

The broad appeal of this approach is evident. Currently we are watching a historical pivotal moment when China has recently passed a series of laws to establish greater regulatory control over managing civil society. In spite of stricter condition, however, China’s growth in NGOs has not stopped. The flourishing domain of NGOs is not a clear-cut story of stooges and heroes. NGOs are facing a wide range of choices. Are they going to become harbingers of democracy, alternative social service providers, the state’s partners, the engine for social experiments, or all above? This collection offers innovative data to elicit fruitful analyses.

The curation of digital parts in this collection is guided by emerging scholarly perspectives on how to use websites and social media as data sources. Nowadays websites are a primary point of access and communication between consumers and organizations. Scholars have yet to fully utilize them as analytical data especially websites in Chinese even though China has the largest internet using population in the world. Webpages are an expression of organizational identity, a representation of how an organization presents itself. Websites are also tools, a venue for getting things accomplished. Thirdly, websites are relational maps, a picture of the interactions an organization has with its external environment as weblinks connect organizations. This collection is an arena where scholars could generate new knowledge, methods and techniques through exploring these three aspects.

This archiving project is a collaboration between Stanford East Asia Library, Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, and Digital Library and Services, Stanford University, and supported by the Mellon Foundation-Council on East Asian Libraries Innovation Grants for East Asian Librarians.