Short bio

Cherian George is Professor of Media Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University, where he also serves as associate dean for research. His books include Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and its Threat to Democracy (MIT Press, 2016), which Publishers’ Weekly named one of the best 100 books of the year; and Red Lines: Political Cartoons and the Struggle against Censorship (MIT Press, 2021), honoured by the Association of American Publishers as one of the year’s three top scholarly books in both the Media & Cultural Studies and Graphic Nonfiction categories. His best-selling books of essays on Singapore include Air-Conditioned Nation Revisited (2020). He received his Ph.D. in Communication from Stanford University. (Full bio below.)

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Full bio

Cherian George is a Professor at the Hong Kong Baptist University School of Communication and Film, where he also serves as Associate Dean (Research and Development).

His research interests centre on freedom of expression in public life, especially in connection to media freedom and censorship; and religious intolerance and hate propaganda. His books include Hate Spin: The Manufacture of Religious Offense and its Threat to Democracy (MIT Press), which was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Books of 2016; and Red Lines: Political Cartoons and the Struggle against Censorship (MIT Press, 2021), which was honoured by the Association of American Publishers’ PROSE Awards as one of the year’s three top scholarly books in both the Media & Cultural Studies and Graphic Nonfiction categories.

He is the author of several other books focusing on media and politics in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Singapore: The Air-Conditioned Nation, published in 2000 and updated 20 years later as Air-Conditioned Nation Revisted, was described by The Economist in 2022 as “the best introduction to Singapore’s idiosyncratic political system”.

He has had visiting positions at the University of Hong Kong and the University of Pennsylvania, where he was inaugural Media at Risk Scholar at the Annenberg School in 2018. He won an academic writing residency at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, Italy, in 2011. Until February 2014, he was an Associate Professor at the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University. He ran its journalism division for a few years, and in 2010 received a Nanyang Award for teaching excellence. He left Singapore for Hong Kong in 2014. He was elected a Fellow of the International Communication Association in 2022.

Before joining academia, he was a journalist at The Straits Times, where he wrote mainly on politics and served as the art and photo editor for three years. Early in his career, he twice won the company’s Feature of the Year Award. He continues to practise professional journalism as the editor and publisher of What’s Up, an independent monthly current affairs newspaper for children, which was honoured for editorial excellence by the Society of Publishers in Asia in 2006.

He is involved in professional education and development of journalists. He is an adviser to the London-based Ethical Journalism Network and the Singapore-based Asia Journalism Fellowship sabbatical programme for mid-career professionals, of which he was the founding head. He has served as a juror for various international journalism awards, such as Amnesty International’s Human Rights Press Awards for Asia and the ExcEl Awards for Excellence in Election Reporting in Southeast Asia. He is a member of the Fetisov Journalism Awards‘ expert council.

He takes an interest in media policy and reform, and has been actively engaged in forums on freedom of expression, including as a consultant for UNESCO and Freedom House. He is a founder of the Academia.SG collective, focusing on the health of Singapore academia including the country’s academic freedom. He was a member of the Media Literacy Council under Singapore’s Ministry of Communication and Information (2012-14), and part of Bloggers 13, a group lobbying for greater internet freedom. His other civil society contributions include serving as a founding member of The Roundtable in the 1990s.

He received his Ph.D. in Communication from Stanford University. He has a Masters from Columbia University’s School of Journalism and a B.A. in Social and Political Sciences from Cambridge University. He is an old boy of St Andrew’s Junior and Secondary Schools, and Hwa Chong Junior College.

He is married to Zuraidah Ibrahim, a fellow journalist.

  • In the interest of full disclosure, please also read my alternative CV.

Selected interviews

Ming Pao, 2022

Mackerel, 2016

Nanyang Chronicle, 2012

Singapore magazine, 2008

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