Dr Jonathan Benney is a graduate of the Asia Institute of the University of Melbourne, Australia. After working at a lecturer and researcher in Australia, he spent two years as a research fellow at the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore. His research explores activism, political communication, and new media in contemporary China. While at the LOEWE Research Focus, he is examining the stability maintenance process in contemporary China: that is, the development of stability maintenance (weiwen) offices at central, provincial, and local levels, each of which has a diverse range of aims generally targeted at avoiding and mediating social disputes. This movement has characteristically been interpreted mainly as a top-down process aims at facilitating political stability and eliminating dissent. Dr Benney aims to add to this analysis by assessing the work of stability maintenance offices and staff as a means of grass-roots conflict resolution and local government innovation, particularly in rural areas. Dr Benney will move to the Institute for US/China-Issues at the University of Oklahoma in August 2013.