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2016-17 LRCCS Event Videos

LRCCS Conference | China Between Worlds

May 8 - 9, 2017 - The Republic, the Civil War, and the Early PRC Through the Eyes of the Shanghai American School

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.


Golden Age: Canton Arts and Crafts in the Context of East-West Cultural Interactions during the 18th to Early Mid-19th Centuries

April 18, 2017 - Dr. Huang Haiyan, Director and Senior Curator of Guangdong Folk Arts Museum, Canton, China

Situated on the shore of the South China Sea, Canton has been the geographical hub of the Maritime Silk Road for over two thousand years. After the Age of Discovery in 15th century, the trading areas of Canton expanded from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. From 1757 to 1840, the Canton System made this city one of the centers of world trades. During this period, Canton was at both the heart of the trades and the front of cultural interactions between the East and the West. As a result of this context, a golden age came for various Canton arts and crafts.

The Shenzhen Condition: An Anthropology of the Intercultural

April 5, 2017 - Mary Ann O’Donnell, Independent Artist-Ethnographer 

Shenzhen names an inherited condition. Simultaneously geopolitical and inter-cultural, innovative and oppressive, adaptable, whimsical, provisional, and scary global in its pretensions and reach, Shenzhen follows on piracy, colonial expansion, international socialism, the rise of the East Asian Tigers, the Cold War, and the era of Reform and Opening. Shenzhen is also excruciatingly banal, suffusing everyday life and ordinary minds with a sense that suddenly, abruptly, and even unexpectedly we’re all living intercultural lives, but not the same intercultural lives, and certainly not with the same values, or if with the same values not exactly with the same valuation of those values. This talk thinks about how we’ve been blindsided by globalization.

US China Relations in the Era of Donald Trump

April 4, 2017 - John Pomfret, Writer and Journalist, The Washington Post

We’re witnessing the education of Donald Trump on China. It is sometimes ugly, often embarrassing, and rich in historical parallels. Still, Trump has identified an essential truth in the relationship: When it comes to U.S.-China business, trade policies, and even geopolitics, the Chinese system seems to be working better for China than the American system is working for America right now. The question is does Trump and his team have the skill to remedy this situation.  

Land, Housing, Air: Deciphering Urban Governance in China and India

March 14, 2017 - Xuefei Ren, Associate Professor of Sociology and Global Urban Studies, Michigan State University

This talk is part of a book project that comparatively examines how cities in China and India have become strategic terrains for the remaking of citizen rights. The book is based on historical-comparative analyses and ethnographic fieldwork on land grabs, slum evictions, and clean-air campaigns in five urban regions in China and India (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Beijing, and Guangzhou).

The Ritual Challenge to Chinese Vernacular Literature: Views from a Village in Hunan

February 21, 2017 - Mark Meulenbeld, Associate Professor of Chinese Religion and Literature, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The research presented in this talk suggests possibilities for a new direction in the study of Ming vernacular literature. Going beyond the argument of Professor Meulenbeld’s monograph “Demonic Warfare,” where he reveals the ritual foundations of Ming novels like “Fengshen yanyi”, he relates the content of vernacular literature to Daoist ritual practice in the rural villages of present-day Central Hunan. He will show that the story of “Fengshen yanyi” informs the content of local Daoist ritual as well as the institutions that codify and disseminate ritual, and challenges the Western, secular implications of the category of literature and surmise that these Chinese vernacular narratives should be more properly understood in relation to ritual.  

China's Ideological Spectrum

December 13, 2016 - Yiqing Xu, Assistant Professor of Political Science, UC San Diego

The study of ideology---of how public preferences are configured and constrained---can inform our understanding of key political outcomes in authoritarian regimes, but has received relatively little attention in recent years. Using data from on an online survey of nearly half a million respondents that cover a wide range of issue, we study ideology in China. We find that public preferences over policy and social issues fall into non-random groupings but are less constrained than preferences in competitive democracies. The configuration of preferences, which we call China's ideological spectrum, is multi-dimensional and are such that those who prefer for authoritarian institutions and conservative political values are more likely to espouse nationalistic views and to prefer state intervention in the economy and traditional social values, while those who prefer democratic institutions and liberal political values are less likely to hold nationalistic views and support traditional social values but more likely to support continued economic reforms. This latter set of views is more likely found in provinces with higher levels of development and among individuals with higher income and education. Our results provide suggestive evidence that economic conditions may shape societal cleavages, but that cleavages may not reflect a division between pro-regime or anti-regime preferences.

LRCCS Distinguished Visitor Lecture Series | From America's Presidential Election to China's 19th Party Congress: Where Do U-S-China Relations Go From Here?

December 1, 2016 - David Shambaugh, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, Director of the China Policy Program, The Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University

US-China relations are, once again, at a turning point. Among the many variables affecting the future evolution of the relationship is the newly-elected administration in Washington and the prospect of a new leadership in Beijing next year. In this Distinguished Visitor Lecture Series presentation, Professor David Shambaugh of George Washington University will consider the overall state of US-China relations, the major issues on the agenda, the policy inclinations and likely approaches of the new Trump administration, the prospects for China's new leadership and its orientation towards the United States, and likely evolution of Sino-American relations in the coming years.

The China Boom - Where did it Come From, Where is it Heading?

September 20, 2016 - Ho-fung Hung, Henry M. and Elizabeth P. Wiesenfeld Associate Professor in Political Economy, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University
Ever since the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, China's continuous rapid growth has led many to see the Chinese model as a viable alternative to neoliberal development. But in fact, rather than constituting a progressive alternative to neoliberalism, China's stellar economic growth was a core part of the global neoliberal order and part of the global imbalance leading to the crisis. China's apparent success in weathering the global financial crisis was grounded on an investment spree which is unsustainable and has started to create an economic crisis in China. China’s shift in growth model is necessary, but is also full of challenges and perils.  

Building on Dreams: Chinese Construction, Workers, Rural-Urban Development, and the Making of Masculinity

October 25, 2016 - Will Thomson, Postdoctoral Fellow, Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies 

Over the past three decades in China, the spectacular rise of modern cities has been made possible by the strength and labor of a vast workforce from the countryside. Typically, migrant construction workers spend eleven months each year in cities, returning to their villages only during New Year to reunite with their families. The mostly-male construction workforce makes up the most visible segment of the so-called "floating population," hundreds of millions who are economically and legally suspended between urban employment and rural identities. Questions of gender and migrant experience in China have almost always focused on women’s work in factories. Construction work provides a parallel space to understand sex-segregated labor through the experiences of rural migrant men. The traditional privileges and ideologies of masculinity operate as resources that intensify the exploitation of rural male workers, motivating them to persist in enterprises that entail their own exclusion.

China and Europe in Global Economic History: From Europe’s Divergence to China’s Convergence

November 15, 2016 - R. Bin Wong, Distinguished Professor of History and former Director of the Asia Institute at UCLA

This talk explores two basic roles of European political economy that deliberately and unintentionally resulted in the ‘great divergence’ and contrast this set of dynamics with the contemporary possibilities for Chinese political economy to harness its domestic developmental aspirations to a transformation of Eurasian economies from its own borders all the way into Europe.

An Act of Imperial Generosity: Remaking the Social Order in first century BCE China

April 11, 2017 - Griet Vankeerberghen, Associate Professor, Department of History and Classical Studies, McGill University

The period of relative stability following the death of Wudi (r. 141-87 BCE) ushered in complex changes to Western Han society, in China proper as well as in the borderlands. This talk will use an act of generosity of 62 BCE to examine how the social order was rethought and remade during this period. By exempting descendants of noble families of the first century BCE from tax and labor services, Xuandi (r. 74-48 BCE) helped engineer the constitution of a sub-elite around the capital, a sub-elite that was linked, through ties of memory and descent, to the great noble lineages that arose after the Han founding.

When Muslims Die in China

March 28, 2017 - Nancy Steinhardt, Professor of East Asian Art, Curator of Chinese Art, University of Pennsylvania

This talk focuses on three tombs in China, two that belong to Muslim royalty and one whose occupants are unknown. The first two, in Nanjing and Dezhou, Shandong province, were built during the reign of the Yongle emperor (r. 1402-1424). The third, in Guyuan, Hebei, almost definitely was constructed during the Yuan dynasty; Ananda, a grandson of Khubilai who converted from Buddhism to Islam, and King George the Ongut have been proposed as occupants. Through architecture, unique convergences of China and Islam in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries are proposed.  

The Authentic Deeds of the Buddha: Visual Narratives and Canonical Scripture in Mogao Cave 61

February 7, 2017 - Neil Schmid, Guest Professor at the University of Vienna

During the late Tang and Five Dynasties period, a renewed interest in the life of the historical Buddha unfolded at Dunhuang that in turn informed a wide range of textual, ritual, and visual materials. This talk investigates a set of mural paintings depicting Śākyamuni’s life from Mogao cave 61 as a window onto these transformations of cultic and artistic practices. Based on the Sūtra of the Collection of Authentic Deeds of the Buddha (Fo benxing ji jing 佛本行集經, T. 190), Mogao 61 contains thirty-three individuated screens (pingfeng 屏風) forming the most extensive singular collection of visual representations of Śākyamuni’s biography in medieval China. Analyzed in conjunction with the canonical scripture, liturgical texts, and with other contemporaneous depictions of Buddha’s life from Mogao, these screens provide nuanced insight into the conceptualization of Śākyamuni and his foundational role in cultic life at Dunhuang.

China's Security Concerns: The Enduring Link Between External and Internal Challenges

December 6, 2016 - Avery Goldstein, David M. Knott Professor of Global Politics and International Relations, University of Pennsylvania

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is today more secure against foreign military attack than at any time since 1949. Yet its leaders have grown increasingly concerned about internal security challenges and their possible links to external threats. This concern about linked internal and external security challenges is not new. But over the past seven decades the perceived connections have evolved along with China’s grand strategy.

Violence in East Asian Buddhism

November 29, 2016 - Jinhua Chen, Professor of East Asian Buddhism, The University of British Columbia

The principle of nonviolence occupies a central place in Buddhist tradition. It is perhaps for this reason that individuals both within and outside the academy regularly contrast it with purportedly more “violent” world religions, asserting that Buddhism has had no institutional involvement in conflicts akin to the crusades or jihad. Against this highly romanticized vision of the tradition, Buddhist monastics have turned out to have interacted with lay people in almost every conceivable way — including violence. This talk aims to throw light on East Asian Buddhism’s involvement in warfare and other forms of violence.

Populist Authoritarianism in China

November 1, 2016 - Wenfang Tang, Stanley Hua Hsia Professor of Political Science and International Studies, University of Iowa

This talk will propose an explanation for the coexistence of popular political support and mass protest in China.

Wenfang Tang is Stanley Hua Hsia Professor of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Iowa. He has published several books and dozens of articles in both English and Chinese on public opinion change in contemporary China. His most recent book is titled "Populist Authoritarianism: Chinese Political Culture and Regime Sustainability" (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Native Seeds of Change: Writing and Reading Women into the Tradition

September 27, 2016 - Pauline Lee, Associate Professor of Chinese Religions and Cultures, St. Louis University

Within the rich and robust body of scholarship on Chinese feminisms most often exists analysis of the complex tensions between social change and the weighty power of tradition, “this culture 文” of Confucius.’ In this talk, Professor Lee characterizes one form of “Confucian feminisms” by study of the objectionable 16th century thinker Li Zhi 李贄, arguably one of China’s greatest iconoclasts. Lee pokes and prods through Li Zhi’s sprawling corpus of writings and shows how Li slyly redefines mundane everyday words; effectively cites (slightly mis-remembered, or intentionally so?) ancient literary references; subtly but powerfully redirects the reading of seemingly trivial throw-away passages in classics, and more ––all in the service, and effectively so, of reclaiming or further opening up the written world in which each woman can create and live her distinctive life. Li takes seriously tradition and the power of reading and writing—rather than legal change, activism, or changes in social structure—to affect our hearts and minds and substantively transform our lives.