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Associate Professor Elaine Jeffreys

Biography

Elaine Jeffreys is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow (FT100100238) and Associate Professor in China studies. Elaine is the author of Sex in China (2015, Polity), Prostitution Scandals in China: Policing, Media and Society (2012 Routledge) and China, Sex and Prostitution (2012 [2004] Routledge). She is editor of Celebrity Philanthropy (2016, Intellect), China's Governmentalities: Governing Change, Changing Government (2011 [2009] Routledge) and Sex and Sexuality in China (2009 [2006] Routledge); and co-editor, with Louise Edwards, of Celebrity in China (2010 Hong Kong University Press).

Image of Elaine Jeffreys
Associate Professor, International Studies Program
PhD (Melb)
 
Phone
+61 2 9514 7425
Room
CB10.05.421

Research Interests

  • Philanthropy, Celebrity and Governance in the People’s Republic of China
  • Being Famous in China: Celebrities, Heroes and Public Figures
  • Governing Prostitution in the People’s Republic of China
She maintains a broad interest in social change in China and social theory more generally.

Can supervise: Yes

Books

Jeffreys, E. & Yu, H. 2015, Sex in China, 1st, Polity, Cambridge, UK.
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Jeffreys, E. & Allatson, P. 2015, Celebrity Philanthropy, First, Intellect / University of Chicago Press, Bristol and Chicago.
Jeffreys, E. 2012, Prostitution scandals in China: Policing, media and society.
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© 2012 Elaine Jeffreys. Prostitution Scandals in China presents an examination of media coverage of prostitution-related scandals in contemporary China. It demonstrates that the subject of prostitution is not only widely debated, but also that these public discussions have ramifications for some of the key social, legal and political issues affecting citizens of the PRC. Further, this book shows how these public discussions impact on issues as diverse as sexual exploitation, civil rights, government corruption, child and youth protection, policing abuses, and public health. In this book Elaine Jeffreys highlights China's changing sexual behaviours in the context of rapid social and economic change. Her work points to changes in the nature of the PRC's prostitution controls flowing from media exposure of policing and other abuses. It also illustrates the emergence of new and legally based conceptions of rightful citizenship in China today, such as children's rights, the right to privacy, work, sex, and health, and the rights of citizens to claim legal redress for losses and injuries experienced as the result of unlawful acts by state personnel. Prostitution Scandals in China will be of great interest to students and scholars across a range of diverse fields including Chinese culture and society, gender studies and media and communication studies.
Jeffreys, E. 2012, China, Sex and Prostitution, paperback, RoutledgeCurzon, London & New York.
Jeffreys, E. 2009, China's Governmentalities: Governing Change, Changing Government.
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© 2009 Editorial selection and matter, Elaine Jeffreys. All rights reserved. Since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) embarked on a programme of 'reform and openness' in the late 1970s, Chinese society has undergone a series of dramatic transformations in almost all realms of social, cultural, economic and political life and the People's Republic of China (PRC) has emerged as a global power. China's post-1978 transition from 'socialist plan' to 'market socialism' has also been accompanied by significant shifts in how the practice and objects of government are understood and acted upon. China's Governmentalities outlines the nature of these shifts, and contributes to emerging studies of governmentality in non-western and non-liberal settings, by showing how neoliberal discourses on governance, development, education, the environment, community, religion, and sexual health, have been raised in other contexts. In doing so, it opens discussions of governmentality to 'other worlds' and the glocal politics of the present. The book will appeal to scholars from a wide range of disciplines interested in the work of Michel Foucault, neo-liberal strategies of governance, and governmental rationalities in contemporary China.
Jeffreys, E. 2006, Sex and sexuality in China.
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© 2006 Elaine Jeffreys, selection and editorial matter. All rights reserved. Elaine Jeffreysexplores the issues of sex and sexuality in a non-Western context by examining debates surrounding the emergence of new sexual behaviours, and the appropriate nature of their regulation, in the People's Republic of China. Commissioned from Western and mainland Chinese scholars of sex and sexuality in China, the chapters in this volume are marked by a diversity of subject material and theoretical perspectives, but turn on three related concerns. First, the book situates China's changing sexual culture and the nature of its governance in the socio-political history of the PRC. Second, it shows how China's shift to a rule of law has generated conflicting conceptions of citizenship and the associated rights of individuals as sexual citizens. Finally, the book demonstrates that the Chinese state does not operate strictly to repress 'sex'; it also is implicated in the creation of new spaces for sexual entrepreneurship, expertise and consumption. This comprehensive study is a valuable resource for scholars in the fields of sexuality studies and post-socialist societies and culture, directly appealing to both East Asia and China specialists.
Jeffreys, E. 2004, China, sex and prostitution.
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© 2004 Elaine Jeffreys. All rights reserved. China, Sex and Prostitution is a topical and important critique of recent scholarship in China studies concerning sexuality, prostitution and policing. Jeffrey's arguments are constructed in the form of detailed analysis of a wide range of primary texts, including documents, press reports, police report, and policy and legal pronouncements, and secondary literature in both English and Chinese. The work engages with some key debates in the fields of cultural and gender studies and will be welcomed by scholars in these areas as well as by China specialists, sociologists and anthropologists.

Chapters

Jeffreys, E. 2015, 'Sex work in China' in McLelland & Mackie, M.M.V.M. (ed), Routledge Handbook of Sexuality Studies in East Asia, Taylor & Francis Ltd, USA.
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Jeffreys, E. 2014, 'Exposing Police Corruption and Malfeasance: China's Virgin Prostitute Cases' in Holmes, L. (ed), Police Corruption: Essential Readings, Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, Cheltenham, UK.
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The chapter examines prostitution related police corruption and malfeasance in the People's Republic of China during the early 2002s as seen in the media coverage story of Ma Dandan and six other virgin prostitute cases. Apart from using the legal and judicial system to protect their rights and reputations, the media's role as citizen redress in present-day China is highlighted.
Jeffreys, E. 2012, 'Prostitution and Propaganda in the People's Republic of China' in Anne-Marie Brady (ed), China's Thought Management, Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, pp. 146-163.
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The article explores the development of Chineese propeganda in educating the prositution industry on the prevention of HIV/AIDS. It explores how the government, which has long been against prositution since the 1950's, has been able to justfy working with the industry in preventing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the country.
Jeffreys, E. 2012, '"Over My Dead Body": Media Constructions of Forced Prostitution in the People's Republic of China' in Devleena Ghosh (ed), Shadowlines: Women and Borders in Contemporary Asia, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastel-on-Tyne, pp. 36-63.
Jeffreys, E. & Edwards, L.P. 2010, 'Celebrity/China' in Jeffreys, E. & Edwards, L. (eds), Celebrity in China, Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong, pp. 1-20.
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Celebrity is a pervasive aspect of everyday life and a growing field of academic inquiry. There is now a substantial body of literature Oil celebrity culture in Australia, Europe and the Americas. This literature covers a wide variety of fields, including: film, literature, popular music, political, and sports stardom; celebrity CEOs, and the relationship between the media and celebrity. I All of these texts seek to understand why the production and consumption of celebrity has become such a common feature of life in recent decades. Some commentators regard celebrity as epitomizing the trivial and deplorable aspects of popular culture (e.g. Boorstin 1972). But increasing numbers of others are concerned to understand the way cultural and economic shifts have helped create a mass-mediated celebrity industry and also to examine the social functions of celebrity, particularly its relation to new forms of individual and community identity (Hardey 2005; Marshall 1997, 2004, 2006; Redmond and Holmes 2007; Turner 2004).
Jeffreys, E. 2010, 'Accidental Celebrites: China's Chastity Heroines and Charity' in Jeffreys, E. & Edwards, L. (eds), Celebrity in China, Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong, pp. 67-84.
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Celebrity is a pervasive aspect of everyday life and a growing field of academic inquiry. There is now a substantial body of literature Oil celebrity culture in Australia, Europe and the Americas. This literature covers a wide variety of fields, including: film, literature, popular music, political, and sports stardom; celebrity CEOs, and the relationship between the media and celebrity. I All of these texts seek to understand why the production and consumption of celebrity has become such a common feature of life in recent decades. Some commentators regard celebrity as epitomizing the trivial and deplorable aspects of popular culture (e.g. Boorstin 1972).
Jeffreys, E. & Sigley, G. 2009, 'Governmentality, governance and China' in China's Governmentalities: Governing Change, Changing Government, pp. 1-23.
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Jeffreys, E., Yingying, H. & Yingying, H. 2009, 'Governing sexual health in the People's Republic of China' in China's Governmentalities: Governing Change, Changing Government, pp. 151-173.
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Jeffreys, E. 2009, 'Serial Prostitute Homicide in the Chinese Media' in Cuklanz, L.M. & Moorti, S. (eds), Local Violence, Global Media: Feminist Analyses of Gendered Representations, Peter Lang, New York, USA, pp. 27-46.
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Women in prostitution are documented victims of serial killers, both hisrorically and in the present day. I Jack the Ripper-probably the most infamous serial killer in the Anglophone world-was the alias given to a person who murdered and mutilated at least four and possibly up to eight women, many of whom were allegedly prostitutes, in the Whitechapel area of London in 1888.' While not the first serial killer, Jack the Ripper became a household name primarily because the gruesome details of the case were covered by an emerging popular press, keen to expose manifest social injustice in the context of rapid industrialization to an increasingly literate general population.:' Media coverage capitalized on local concerns by portraying London's East End as a hot-bed of vice, stressing either "the need for social reform to alleviate the poverty causing crime" or berating the metropolitan police for failing to protect lower-class women by catching the perpetrator." The "Ripper" appellative is now routinely attached to serial-murder hunts by the tabloid press.
Jeffreys, E. 2009, 'Feminist Prostitution Debates: Are There any Sex Workers in China?' in Edwards, L. & Roces, M. (eds), Women in Asia, Rutledge, Abingdon, Oxen, NY., pp. 301-325.
Jeffreys, E. 2008, 'Advanced producers or moral polluters? China's bureaucrat-entrepreneurs and sexual corruption' in Goodman, D.S.G. (ed), The New Rich in China: Future Rulers, Present Lives, Routledge, London, UK, pp. 243-291.
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Jeffreys, E. 2008, 'Querying Queer Theory: Debating Male-Male Prostitution in the Chinese Media' in Murphy, R. & Fong, V.L. (eds), Media, Identity, and Struggle in Twenty-First-Century China, Routledge, Oxon, pp. 66-82.
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Jeffreys, E. 2008, '(Women in Asia) Over My Dead Body! Media Constructions of Forced Prostitution in the People's Republic of China' in Gong Siyi (ed), Kuibuji Shanghai Daxue Xini Keji Daxue Xueshu Yantaohui Lunwenji, Shangda Press, Shanghai, pp. 167-186.
This paper examines some of the tensions surrounding the PRC's official policy of banning prostitution by focusing on two highly publicized cases of deceptive recruiting for sexual services - the 'Tang Shengli Incident' and the'Liu Yanhua Incident'. Both cases involve young rural women who had migrated from their native homes to other more economically developed parts of China to look for work. Both were forced to sell sex and both resisted.However, whereas Tang Shengli jumped from a building rather than be forced into prostitution, Liu Yanhua escaped from conditions akin to sexual servitude by stabbing her 'employer'. An examination of these cases highlights some of the problems associated with efforts by the Chinese women's media to promote and protect women's rights in a country marked by rapid, yet unequal, economic growth and an expanding, albeit banned, sex industry.
Jeffreys, E. 2006, 'Introduction: Talking sex and sexuality in China', pp. 1-20.
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Jeffreys, E. 2006, 'Debating the legal regulation of sex-related bribery and corruption in the People's Republic of China' in Sex and Sexuality in China, pp. 159-178.
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Jeffreys, E. 2004, 'Feminist Prostitution Debates: Are There Any Sex Workers in China?' in McLaren Anne (ed), Chinese Women: Living and Working, RoutledgeCurzon, London & New York, pp. 165-211.
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Jeffreys, E. 2003, 'Feminist prostitution debates: Are there any sex workers in China?' in Chinese Women - Living and Working, pp. 81-102.
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Conferences

Jeffreys, E. 2003, 'A Matter of Choice:Feminist Prostitution Debates and the Example of China', Critical Policy Studies of China International Workshop, Harvard University, Harvard University (Asia Centre).
Conference agenda found at : http://web.mit.edu/chinapolicy/www/conference1/finalagenda.pdf

Journal articles

Hassid, J. & Jeffreys, E. 2015, 'Doing good or doing nothing? Celebrity, media and philanthropy in China', Third World Quarterly, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 75-93.
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© 2015 Southseries Inc., www.thirdworldquarterly.com. Based on a statistical analysis of 91 celebrity-endorsed charities in the People's Republic of China, this paper challenges the popular assumption that celebrity involvement with not-for-profit organisations attracts extensive media coverage. Although China is the largest media market in the world, previous studies of celebrity philanthropy have been conducted almost exclusively in a Western context. Such studies argue passionately for and against the role that celebrities can play in attracting attention to humanitarian causes, focusing on the activities of Western celebrities, corporations and consumers as essential or problematic promoters and providers of aid to people in developing countries. We show that – in China, at least – most of this debate is overblown. Rather than arguing in favour of or against celebrity philanthropy, we provide statistical results suggesting that celebrity endorsement has very little impact on press coverage of charities.
Jeffreys, E. & Sigley, G. 2014, 'Government, Governance, Governmentality and China: New Approaches to the Study of State, Society and Self', China Studies, vol. 18, pp. 129-146.
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Jeffreys, E. & Su, S. 2013, 'China's growing culture of philanthropy', Asian Currents, vol. October, no. 92, pp. 22-24.
Jeffreys, E. & Pan, W. 2013, 'The rise of Chinese-foreign marriage in mainland China, 1979-2010', China Information, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 347-369.
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This research note examines the growth of Chinese-foreign marriage in mainland China since 1979. From the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 until the early 1990s, Chinese-foreign marriage was an unusual occurrence in the country. Statistics compiled by the PRC's Ministry of Civil Affairs indicate that the number of couples registering a Chinese-foreign marriage in mainland China increased almost tenfold between 1979 and 2010, although that figure has since stabilized at a lower rate. The article explores these changes in three stages. First, it maps the architecture of the PRC's Marriage Laws and reform-era regulations on marriage registration, showing how Chinese-foreign marriages have been categorized as different types of 'cross-border' and international marriages. Second, it provides a statistical breakdown of the number, type and gendered composition of Chinese-foreign marriages registered in mainland China between 1979 and 2010. It concludes by highlighting the gendered character and spatial dimensions of mainland Chinese-foreign marriages, and pointing to their largely 'intracultural' as opposed to international bases. © The Author(s) 2013.
Jeffreys, E. & Wang, S. 2012, 'MIGRANT BEGGARS AND BUSKERS China's Have-Less Celebrities', CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 571-596.
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Jeffreys, E. 2012, 'Modern China's Idols: Heroes, Role Models, Stars and Celebrities', Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 1-32.
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This paper examines the diversity of Chinas popular culture idols with reference to a commemorative website called `The Search for Modern China, which was launched in late September 2009 to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party on 1 October 1949. The websites framing narrative suggests that the history of idol production and celebrity in the PRC can be viewed crudely as marked by disjuncture: the decline of heavy-handed Party-state involvement in the propagandistic manufacturing of socialist idols of production, followed by the grafted-on rise of western-style media-manufactured celebrities as idols of capitalist consumption. However, an analysis of the websites pantheon of idols reveals that while some idols from the Maoist and early reform period have been relegated to the realm of fiction, revolutionary kitsch or are now simply passé, others remain very much alive in the popular imagination. A state-led project of promoting patriotic education has ensured the coexistence in commercial popular culture of revolutionary idols and contemporary celebrities, via memory sites associated with broadcast television, DVDs and the Internet, and the historical locations, museums and monuments of `red tourism.
Jeffreys, E. 2012, 'China's First National Charity Fair: Towards 2015', CSAA Newsletter, vol. 44.
Jeffreys, E. & Gang, S. 2011, 'China's 100 per cent condom use program: Customising the Thai experience', Asian Studies Review, vol. 35, no. 3, pp. 315-333.
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This paper examines the adoption and roll-out of a 100 Per Cent Condom Use Program (100% CUP) in the People's Republic of China (PRC). It first details the initial implementation of a 100% CUP in Thailand and explains how this created a framework for action in other developing countries. It then examines the implementation of pilot programs in China. We conclude that governmental authorities in the PRC now actively target designated high-risk populations such as female sex workers in order to combat the spread of sexually transmissible infections and HIV/AIDS. This has resulted in the introduction of new legal frameworks and the use of widespread media publicity to promote condom use and safer-sex strategies. However, the more effective implementation of a national 100% CUP in China requires attention to the problems associated with the legal and social marginalisation of female sex workers, which is reinforced by police-led crackdowns on prostitution. © 2011 Asian Studies Association of Australia.
Jeffreys, E. 2011, 'Zhang Ziyi and China's Celebrity - Philanthropy Scandals', Portal Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 1-21.
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In January 2010, the internationally acclaimed Chinese actor, Zhang Ziyi, became a focus of public criticism for allegedly defaulting on a pledge to donate one million yuan to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake disaster-relief fund. That earthquake not only killed 70,000 people and left five million homeless, but also produced a dramatic rise in individual and corporate philanthropy in China. Philanthropic donations in 2008 amounted to a total figure of 100 billion yuan, exceeding the documented total for the preceding decade. Zhangs `failed pledge led fans and critics to accuse her in interactive media forums of both charity fraud and generating a nationwide crisis of faith in the philanthropic activities of the rich and famous. Dubbed `donation-gate, the ensuing controversy obliged Zhang Ziyi to hire a team of USA-based lawyers, to give an exclusive interview to the China Daily, and to engage in renewed philanthropic endeavours, in an effort to clear her name. Hence, contrary to claims that celebrity philanthropy is an apolitical mode of philanthropy, an examination of the Zhang Ziyi scandal and its disaster-relief precursors demonstrates that celebrity philanthropy in the Peoples Republic of China is a political affair.
Jeffreys, E. 2010, 'Regulating private affairs in contemporary China: Private investigators and the policing of spousal infidelity', China Information, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 149-167.
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This article examines the recent emergence of Chinas private investigation industry, focusing on investigators of spousal infidelity. It outlines the professed business rationales of private investigators that target women experiencing marital crises, including claims that they provide a necessary social service, protect womens rights, promote anti-corruption measures, and uphold Chinese law. It also details growing criticisms of Chinas infidelity sleuths for violating Chinese law and citizens rights. Finally, the article examines some of the proposed responses to the problems associated with private investigators and the policing of infidelity. The demand for such services highlights the laissez-faire position that economic reform has increasingly forced Chinas governmental authorities to assume with regard to regulating the private affairs of Chinese citizens.
Jeffreys, E. 2010, 'EXPOSING POLICE CORRUPTION AND MALFEASANCE: CHINA'S VIRGIN PROSTITUTE CASES', CHINA JOURNAL, vol. 63, pp. 127-149.
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Jeffreys, E. 2007, 'Querying queer theory - Debating male-male prostitution in the Chinese media', CRITICAL ASIAN STUDIES, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 151-175.
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Jeffreys, E. 2006, 'Over my dead body! Media constructions of forced prostitution in the People's Republic of China', PORTAL Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies: Women in Asia Special Issue, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 1-27.
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This paper examines some of the tensions surrounding the PRCs official policy of banning prostitution by focusing on two highly publicized cases of deceptive recruiting for sexual servicesthe `Tang Shengli Incident and the `Liu Yanhua Incident. Both cases involve young rural women who had migrated from their native homes to other more economically developed parts of China to look for work. Both were forced to sell sex and both resisted. However, whereas Tang Shengli jumped from a building rather than be forced into prostitution, Liu Yanhua escaped from conditions akin to sexual servitude by stabbing her `employer. An examination of these cases highlights some of the problems associated with efforts by the Chinese womens media to promote and protect womens rights in a country marked by rapid, yet unequal, economic growth and an expanding, albeit banned, sex industry.
Jeffreys, E. 2006, 'Governing buyers of sex in the People's Republic of China', ECONOMY AND SOCIETY, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 571-593.
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Jeffreys, E. 2003, 'Transnational Prostitution - a Global Feminist Response', Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 18, no. 41, pp. 211-216.
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Jeffreys, E. & Sigley, G. 1999, 'On 'Sex' and 'Sexuality' in China: A Conversation with Pan Suiming (edited and reviewed interview)', Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 50-58.
Sigley, G. & Jeffreys, E. 1999, 'On "sex" and "sexuality" in China: A conversation with Pan Suiming', BULLETIN OF CONCERNED ASIAN SCHOLARS, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 50-58.
Jeffreys, E. 1999, 'Forget Feminism and Forget Foucault. Long Live 'Anthropological Sexology' in Chinese Studies! (A Response to William Jankowiak's 'Chinese Women, Gender, And Sexuality: A critical Review of Recent Studies')', Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 42-44.
Jeffreys, E. 1999, 'Interview: On "Sex" and "Sexuality" in China: A Conversation with Pan Suiming', Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 50-58.
Jeffreys, E. 1998, 'Dangerous pleasures: Prostitution and modernity in twentieth-century Shanghai', CHINA JOURNAL, vol. 39, pp. 215-218.
Jeffreys, E. & Ross, K. 1998, 'Women & Sexuality In China, by Harriet Evans', China Journal, vol. 40, pp. 207-211.
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Jeffreys, E. 1997, 'Guest Editor's Introduction', Prostitution in Contemporary China, a Special issue of Chinese Socialogy and Anthropology, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 3-27.
Jeffreys, E. 1997, 'Prostitution in contemporary China - Guest editor's introduction', CHINESE SOCIOLOGY AND ANTHROPOLOGY, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 3-27.
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Jeffreys, E. 1997, ''"Dangerous Amusements": Prostitution and Karaoke Halls in Contemporary China'', Asian Studies Review, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 43-54.
The term "dangerous amusements" comes from a text by Mark Connelly which details the construction of prostitution as a socio-political problem in early twentieth-century America.1 While it may seem somewhat odd to begin a discussion of prostitution in present-day China by way of reference to this particular period in American history, Connelly's work offers a useful point of departure for three reasons. First, his use of the term "dangerous amusements" evokes the dualism inherent in most common understandings of prostitution: namely, that the phenomenon of prostitution constitutes both a source of individual pleasure and material gain, and also a potential threat to the values and interests of society at large. The tensions present in this reading also help explain why the prostitute subject has been variously constructed as a sexual healer, a worker engaged in an inevitable or even necessary social practice, and as a depraved and diseased figure that threatens to rot the body politic.
JEFFREYS, E. 1994, 'WOMAN, NATION AND NARRATIVE - WESTERN BIOGRAPHICAL ACCOUNTS OF QING,JIANG', AUSTRALIAN FEMINIST STUDIES, no. 20, pp. 35-51.
Jeffreys, E. 1994, 'The Humanities, Humanism and Asian Stud', Asian Studies Review, vol. 16, pp. 2-9.
Jeffreys, E. 1991, 'What is 'Difference' in Feminist Theory and Practice?', Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 14, pp. 1-15.

Non traditional outputs

Jeffreys, E. & Wang, P. 2014, 'Chinese-foreign Marriage in Mainland China', The University of Nottingham, United Kingdom.

Other

Jeffreys, E. & Hassid, J. 2015, 'Media, Celebrity and Philanthropy in China: Doing Good or Doing Nothing?', The University of Nottingham.
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Based on a statistical analysis of 91 celebrity-endorsed charities in the People's Republic of China, this paper challenges the popular assumption that celebrity involvement with not-for-profit organizations attracts extensive media coverage. Although China is the largest media market in the world, previous studies of celebrity philanthropy have been conducted almost exclusively in a Western context. Such studies argue passionately for and against the role that celebrities can play in attracting attention to humanitarian causes, focusing on the activities of Western celebrities, corporations and consumers as essential or problematic promoters and providers of aid to people in developing countries. We show that – in China, at least – most of this debate is overblown. Rather than arguing in favour of or against 20 celebrity philanthropy, we provide statistical results suggesting that celebrity endorsement has very little impact on press coverage of charities.