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China Between Worlds

The Republic, the Civil War, and the Early PRC Through the Eyes of the Shanghai American School

May 8-9, 2017 | 9am - 3:30pm | Michigan League, Vandenberg Room

This symposium is a rare opportunity to merge cutting-edge Michigan scholarship on China's modern history, politics, and culture with the lived experiences and memories of the Shanghai American School (SAS)'s surviving post-WWII alumni – individuals whose lives collectively overlapped with the tumultuous transition from Republican China to the PRC. The SAS alumni will attend the symposium as special guests and have planned their community reunion in concert with the event.

Featured topics include cross-cultural exchanges, nation-building projects, and foreign presence in Republican China; the Chinese Civil War and 1949 as interpreted through multiple historical registers (including cultural and social perspectives in addition to oft-examined political topics); and – most uniquely – the complicated roles of personal experience, memory, and oral history in interpretations of key pivots in modern Chinese history. The symposium will situate the historical SAS experience within broader histories of the Chinese nation, American perspectives on China in the 20th century, and the city of Shanghai as a focal point for multiple strands of historical change over time. 

LRCCS-affiliated faculty and graduate students will present alongside SAS guest speakers, visiting international graduate students, and Dr. Xiaoxin Wu from the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History at the University of San Francisco. 

Ambassador J. Stapleton Roy – himself an SAS alumnus and present in Shanghai during the regime change of 1949 – will give the keynote address.

Conference organizers: Joseph W. Ho and Pär Cassel.

Cosponsored by the U-M Asia Library, the U-M Department of History, and the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies