2019-2020 Event Videos
Overreach and Overreaction: The Crisis in U.S.-China Relations | December 3, 2019
Susan Shirk, Chair, 21st Century China Center, University of California, San Diego
Relations between the United States and China today have become more competitive and tense than they have been during the past forty years since the 1979 normalization of diplomatic relations. The deterioration of relations has not been caused by a single incident but is systemic and broad. China’s international and domestic overreaching has provoked a widespread backlash not just in the United States, but in many other advanced economies as well. Within the United States, there is talk about protecting ourselves from the perceived China threat by decoupling our intertwined economies, and Chinese and Chinese-Americans are starting to come under suspicion. How can the two countries stabilize relations and reverse this downward spiral?
Susan Shirk is the Chair of the 21st Century China Center and Research Professor at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at the University of California - San Diego. She is also director emeritus of the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC). Susan Shirk first visited China in 1971 and has been teaching, researching and engaging China diplomatically ever since.
Periphery, Locality, and Status in Writings from Sixteenth-Century Dali, Yunnan | November 26, 2019
Eloise Wright, LRCCS Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Michigan
From 1253, when Mongol armies invaded the independent Dali Kingdom in the southeastern foothills of the Himalayas, its capital, Dali, was transformed into a remote periphery of Yuan and then Ming empires. By the sixteenth century, Dali's gentry families, both indigenous and migrant, were increasingly educating their sons in the classical tradition, to enroll in the civil service examinations and take positions as Ming officials. How did their experiences transform the ways that Dali's literati wrote about their hometown, about its people, and about themselves?
The Emperor Has No Voice: Imperial Utterance in Excavated Han Documents | November 19, 2019
Charles Sanft, Associate Professor and Associate Head, Department of History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
The emperor was at the center of Chinese political theory throughout the imperial period. Sometimes this theoretical position found expression in an announcement to the realm. The First Emperor, for example, made his power known in 221 BCE by means of a widely-distributed inscription in his own voice. My examination of excavated documents the Han central government promulgated in its northwestern border region, however, suggests that the emperors’ theoretical potency was not matched by conspicuous utterance, at least not in those contexts. What emerges instead is taciturnity, constraint, silence. In this presentation, I consider example documents and discuss what the imperial voice in these texts tells us about the nature of rule and rulership in the Han dynasty.
Liu Liangmo (刘良模1909-1988) —Transpacific Mass Singing, Journalism, and Christian Activism | November 12, 2019
Yunxiang Gao, Associate Professor of History, Ryerson University
Professor Gao’s talk lifts out of the dustbin of history the life and career of Liu Liangmo, a talented musician, prolific journalist, and Christian activist. Liu agilely navigated slippery trans-Pacific political and ideological landscapes throughout the World War II and Cold War. After “coaxing the Chinese (civilians and soldiers) into mass signing” and helping to invent the new genre “songs of resistance” to promote national morale and unified resistance against Japan, Liu sojourned to the United States. There, despite close surveillance by the FBI, he formed an unusual alliance with African Americans by contributing a weekly column to the biggest black newspaper “Pittsburgh Courier” and cooperating with Paul Robeson, the world famous singer and actor, in popularizing Chinese songs of resistance. Robeson and Liu brought the future national anthem of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) into global circulation. Meanwhile, Liu traveled more than 100,000 miles to speak and sing about China to grassroots white Americans on behalf of the United China Relief. Later, as a top official representing Protestant denominations in the PRC, Liu helped to bring Christianity into line with the new regime, served China as its authoritative interpreter of the United States, and facilitated the alliance between the PRC and such African American cultural giants as W.E.B Du Bois, Shirley Graham Du Bois, and Paul Robeson.
China’s War on Smuggling: Law, Economic Life, and the Making of the Modern State | October 22, 2019
Philip Thai, Associate Professor of History, Northeastern University
Coastal smuggling has been a thorny problem for successive governments in modern China. But, while smuggling might have operated on the margins of the law, it was far from marginal in driving important historical changes. Introducing his new book, Philip Thai explores how campaigns against smuggling transformed everyday economic life and amplified state power, thereby offering new insights into modern Chinese social, legal, and economic history.
The Ambitious and Anxious: Chinese Undergraduates in the US |October 8, 2019
Yingyi Ma, Associate Professor of Sociology, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University
Over the past decade, a wave of Chinese international undergraduate students―mostly self-funded―has swept across American higher education. This privileged yet diverse group of young people from a changing China must navigate the complications and confusions of their formative years while bridging the two most powerful countries in the world. How do these students come to study in the United States? What does this experience mean to them? This talk is based on a forthcoming book to be released by the Columbia University Press in January 2020.