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Easter 2018

China Research Seminar

Easter Term, 2018

Unless otherwise arranged, all seminars take place on Wednesdays at 5pm in rooms 8 & 9 in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Tea will be served at the same venue at 4:45pm. All are welcome.

  • Wednesday, 25th April, 2018
    History and Nationalist Legitimacy in Contemporary China: A Double-Edged Sword
    Dr Robert Weatherly, Mills and Reeve & University of Cambridge

  • Wednesday, 2nd May, 2018
    Canteens and the Politics of Working Class Diets in Industrial China, 1920s - 1950s
    Prof. Seung-joon Lee, University of Singapore 

    In no country were hunger and malnutrition politicized more than they were in twentieth-century China. This paper explores how workers’ diets and meal services at factory canteens became the nucleus of labor politics in China. At the heart of Chinese labor politics was a demand for worker’s life improvement, particularly for an adequate meal service, which was to be provided by the management at a decent price, if not free, at the work place. Having set up a number of successful labor disputes before the Communist Party cadres appeared at the scene, Chinese workers themselves made significant political repercussions, namely “rice strikes” (migui bagong), in the 1920s. With a series of industrial welfare programs, the KMT Nationalists, too, made unsparing efforts to garner the growing political potential of the labor force. In the eyes of the KMT technocrats, providing optimal calories to the work force was a quintessential task to fulfill the Party’s cardinal cause: building a strong industrial nation. When the CCP seized power in 1949, food calories arguably remained the prime source of energy in China’s national economy, which was predominantly agricultural. To build strong socialist economy—industrially mighty and yet egalitarian—the Chinese working population would need to eat better and consume more food than it ever had before. At the workplace canteens, once a political battleground upon which workers seeking their food entitlement and the KMT-style labor management frequently collided, the Communists embarked on a new politics of working-class diet.

    Professor Lee is the author of Gourmets in the Land of Famine, a celebrated book on the politics and culture of rice in Canton in the Republican period.

  • Wednesday, 9th May, 2018
    Explaining China’s 21st century social policies
    Prof. Jane Duckett, University of Glasgow

    Why, counter to the expectations of both Chinese studies and political science theory, did the Chinese party-state extend social security programmes to rural dwellers in the first decade of the 21st century? Did the Chinese leadership fear rural protest? Were leadership factions competing for power, or bureaucratic agencies pursuing institutional interests? Or was a benevolent dictatorship simply solving rural social problems? This talk considers the evidence for all these explanations, as well as the role of hitherto neglected international and ideational influences.

    Prof. Jane Duckett, FBA, is Edward Caird Chair of Politics at the University of Glasgow and Director of the Scottish Centre for China Research. Her early research on the Chinese state under market reform included a book-length study, The Entrepreneurial State in China (Routledge, 1998). She then (with Bill Miller) made a comparative study of public attitudes to openness in East Asia and Eastern Europe, published as The Open Economy and its Enemies (CUP, 2006). Her monograph, The Chinese State’s Retreat from Health: Policy and the Politics of Retrenchment (Routledge, hdbk 2011; pbk 2013) drew on comparative political theory to explain the Chinese state’s retrenchment in health care provision between the 1980s and 2003. She co-edited (with Beatriz Carrillo), China’s Changing Welfare Mix: Local Perspectives (Routledge, 2011), a book that investigated China’s evolving social welfare provision. She has also published papers in a wide range of journals, including World Development, Pacific Review, The China Quarterly, Modern China, Health Policy and Planning and Health Expectations.

  • Wednesday, 16th May, 2018
    Verses of Vengeance: Poetry and the Boxer Crisis of 1900
    Prof. Jeff Wasserstrom, University of California, Irvine

    Chinese Woodblock Print Showing the Recapture of Tianjin During the Boxer Rebellion

    This presentation showcases material from a book that the presenter is writing that will place into global perspective the Boxer attacks on Christians, the fifty-five day siege of Beijing, and the international invasion that convulsed the Qing Empire as the nineteenth century came to an end. Different chapters of this book will focus on varied themes and varied types of of texts that were created during or written about the dramatic events of 1900 that engaged the attention of people around the world. This particular presentation will look at what we can learn about the violence of the time from looking at diverse works of poetry, ranging from bits of anti-Christian doggerel that appeared on Boxer proclamations to an ode celebrating the freeing of the hostages in Beijing that was written by one of the most famous American lyricists of the era, and from a meditation on the way the century was ending by an Indian writer who would go on to win a Nobel Prize to a piece of Waka style verse by a Japanese soldier.

    Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor's Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, where he also holds courtesy positions in Law and Literary Journalism. His most recent books are, as co-author, China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, third edition (2018), as author, Eight Juxtapositions: China through Imperfect Analogies from Mark Twain to Manchukuo (a 2016 Penguin Special), and, as editor, The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China (2016, with a paperback editing due out in the summer). In addition to writing for academic publications, he is a regular contributor to general interest periodicals such as the TLS, the Financial Times, and the "China Channel" of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

  • Wednesday, 23rd May, 2018
    The Beginning and End of the Dunhuang Manuscripts
    Prof. Stephen F. Teiser, Princeton University

    The Beginning and End of the Dunhuang Manuscripts

    Who could fail to be excited by speculation about the entombment of the Dunhuang manuscripts in a small side-chapel at the Mogao Caves (Gansu) at the dawn of the second millennium, and the not-unrelated tales about their discovery by the great explorers of central Asia at the beginning of the twentieth? Accounting for the end or storing away of the Dunhuang corpus is indeed important, but my focus is instead on how the manuscripts began. I survey the multiple origins of the manuscripts, the range of religious and social institutions producing the texts, and the variety of people who created them. The talk considers how the beginning—the creation, use, and recycling—of the manuscripts can provide invaluable information about institutions of literacy, social life, and religious practice on the Silk Road.

    Stephen F. Teiser is D.T. Suzuki Professor in Buddhist Studies and Director of the East Asian Studies Program at Princeton University. His books include The Ghost Festival in Medieval China (1988), The Scripture on the Ten Kings and the Making of Purgatory in Medieval Chinese Buddhism (1994), and Reinventing the Wheel: Paintings of Rebirth in Medieval Buddhist Temples (2006). His 2014 Guanghua Lectures at Fudan University are forthcoming as Yili yu fojiao yanjiu 儀禮與佛教研究 (Ritual and the Study of Buddhism, Beijing: Sanlian chubanshe).

  • Wednesday, 30th May, 2018
    Our Marriages - When Lesbians Marry Gay Men
    Film screening (40 mins) with He Xiaopei, Film Director and Founder of Pink Space, China Sexuality Research Centre

    After the screening, there will be an opportunity to discuss the film with the director.

    When Lesbians Marry Gay Men

For further information, contact:

Prof. Hans van de Ven
Professor of Modern Chinese History
Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies

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