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The Illusion of Teleology in the Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien (侯孝賢)

17 June 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Christopher Lupke 陸敬思


One thread that runs through most of Taiwanese auteur filmmaker Hou Hsiao-hsien’s films from beginning to end is the visual display of motion: travel, flight, quest, sojourn, jaunt. Much is made of Hou’s static camera in his early films and the slow pan of his later cinematographic style. But what is enframed in the shot is often some effort to get somewhere. Despite, that what one finds pervading his films is an inability to achieve one’s goals, an inability to get where one wishes to go, or an inability of the movement through space to effect the ends that one had intended. In this presentation, Christopher Lupke, author of The Sinophone Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien, will discuss a range of Hou’s films from throughout his career, suggesting that despite a wide variety of subject matter, settings, and themes, one constant in his film is the illusion of teleology. His films often early on posit a desire to get somewhere but seldom accomplish it. Christopher Lupke 陸敬思 is Professor of Chinese and Cinema Studies at Washington State University where he has coordinated Asian languages for the past sixteen years and chairs the Center for the Humanities Planning Group. A specialist in modern Chinese culture, Lupke was trained in philosophy at Grinnell College, where he received his B. A., in classical Chinese at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he received his M. A., and in classical and modern Chinese as well as cultural theory and film at Cornell University, obtaining his Ph. D. in 1993. Much of his early scholarship was dedicated to literary studies of Taiwanese authors. He continues to have a strong interest in the culture and society of Taiwan and Sinophone Studies in general. His most recent publication is the book The Sinophone Cinema of Hou Hsiao-hsien: Culture, Style, Voice, and Motion (Cambria Press, 2016). Lupke has edited two books, The Magnitude of Ming: Command, Life and Fate in Chinese Culture (University of Hawai’i Press, 2005) and New Perspectives on Contemporary Chinese Poetry (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), and edited or co-edited four special theme issues of journals. He also translates. His publications have appeared in Journal of Taiwan Literary Studies, Taiwan Literature, Chinese PEN, boundary 2, Comparative Literature Studies, positions: east asia critique, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Journal of Asian Studies, Asian Cinema, Senses of Cinema, Journal of Modern Literature in Chinese, Asymptote, Michigan Quarterly Review, New England Quarterly, Epiphany, Eleven Eleven, Free Verse, Five Points, and other journals and edited volumes.

Socialism by Design: Materials, Material Culture, and Revolution in Mao Era China

16 June 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Jennifer Altehenger


Design and material culture, as scholarship has shown, shaped politics and everyday life in the US, USSR, and Europe after 1945. We know much less about materials and design in revolutionary China before the post-1978 economic reforms. For most Chinese, life during the “Mao Era” was marked by material scarcity. The concept of “design” did not gain as much prominence during these years as it did in Europe’s socialist regimes. Yet that does not mean it did not matter. This seminar explores the history of design during the early years of the People’s Republic of China by looking at two examples: the domestic production of engineered wood furniture and the international presentation of Chinese industrial product designs at the East German Leipzig Trade Fairs, one of the most important COMECON trade fairs at that time. Design and the grand project of socialist industrialisation were closely linked. Even though often overlooked, particularly if they were not embellished with symbols of the Mao Cult, everyday objects produced during this period tell us much about what socialism meant over time. They can best do so, however, if we place them and their histories of production and circulation in the broader discussions of raw material provisions, material sciences, mechanization, and talk about new aesthetics for a “New China”. Jennifer Altehenger is Lecturer in Contemporary Chinese History at King’s College London. Her first book, Laws for the Masses, examines law propaganda and the popularisation of legal knowledge in the People’s Republic of China between 1949 and 1989. Her next project will trace the history of socialist design and material culture in Mao and post-Mao China. She has also published on the history of lexicography, political satire, and on Communist China’s links to other socialist countries before 1989.

Political Mobilization in Tibet: Understanding Regional Variation in the Incidence of Unrest

13 June 2016, 12:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Ben Hillman


In 2008 a wave of political unrest broke out across Tibetan regions in China. Characterized by street protests, inter-communal violence, and, later, by self-immolations, the political unrest was the most widespread since the annexation of Tibetan areas in the first decade of the People’s Republic of China. And yet, although the unrest spread far and wide across the Tibet Plateau, not all areas were affected. This seminar draws on recent fieldwork in eastern Tibet to provide tentative answers to the question “why have some Tibetan localities mobilized politically while others have not?” Findings challenge previous scholarship on this subject, and shed light on political developments in Tibetan areas, including the dynamics of integration, state-society relations, the efficacy of China’s nation-building project, and the prospects for further unrest.  Dr. Ben Hillman is a comparative political scientist who specializes in ethnic politics and policies in China and Asia. He has worked as an advisor to Governments and the United Nations on peace building and post-conflict governance strategies. His book Patronage and Power: Local State Networks and Party-state Resilience in Rural China (Stanford University Press, 2014) examines local political institutions and decision-making in China’s ethnically diverse western regions. He is co-editor (with Gray Tuttle) of Ethnic Conflict and Protest in Tibet and Xinjiang: Unrest in China’s West (Columbia University Press, 2016). Dr. Hillman’s current research investigates political mobilization in China’s Tibetan areas.

How should Europe and the US deal with China?: new approaches for the decade to come

3 June 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Hon. Charlene Barshefsky (Former US Trade Representative), Rt Hon. Liam Byrne MP (Author of Turning to Face the East: How Britain Can Prosper in the Asian Century), Hon. Winston Lord (Former US Ambassador to China), Minister Norbert Roettgen (Chair, Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee)


A forum with top policy thinkers on American and European relations with China

Bureaucracy and salvation: The Chinese ways to divinization

2 June 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof Vincent Goossaert


The earliest Chinese documents show that dead humans could become (under certain conditions) ancestors or else suffering, possibly malevolent, and ultimately forgotten ghosts. The late warring state period saw the more or less concurrent emergence of two new postmortem destinations: one is direct access to transcendence via self-cultivation techniques, the other is promotion into the ranks of the otherworldly bureaucracy. While initially opposed, these two options became over the following centuries intermingled in many ways, as the divine bureaucracy continued to expand, to complexify and to incorporate those who had attempted to escape it. This presentation will argue that the aspiration to become a god (divinization) has ever since played a key role in Chinese religious, intellectual and cultural history. While families work at transforming their dead into ancestors, individuals tend to rather prefer divinization for themselves, and often take steps in that direction while alive. The two main ways to divinization that opened during the late warring states have basically stayed the same, but while the first (salvation through self-cultivation) remained elitist, the second (gaining initial access in the divine bureaucracy and then working one’s way up) gradually opened to all and sundry, most remarkably as a consequence of the religious changes of early modernity (10th-13th centuries). Becoming an otherworldly bureaucrat has become in modern time the main way to saving oneself from postmortem suffering and oblivion. This will lead us to reflect upon the intimate connection between two categories not often examined in tandem: bureaucracy and salvation. Vincent Goossaert obtained his PhD at EPHE (Ecole pratique des hautes études, 1997), was a research fellow at CNRS (1998-2012) and is now Professor of Daoism and Chinese religions at EPHE. He has been Visiting Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Geneva University and Renmin University. His research deals with the social history of Chinese religion in late imperial and modern times. He has published books on the Daoist clergy, anticlericalism, Chinese dietary taboos, the production of moral norms, and, with David Palmer, The Religious Question in Modern China (Chicago, 2011; Levenson Prize 2013). He serves since 2014 as the dean of the EPHE graduate school (600 PhD students). 

European perspective(s) on China’s OBOR (One Belt, One Road)

26 May 2016, 5:00 pm



China’s OBOR (One Belt, One Road) aims at reshaping Asia through investment and increased connectivity. Yet it also bears direct consequences for Europe, which is envisioned as the end point of both China’s new land and maritime routes. What does OBOR entail for Europe? How does it fit or conflict with some of Europe’s current economic and geopolitical objectives? What is (are) Europe’s view(s) on China’s initiative? And what are the ways to make sure China’s and Europe’s interests align along Beijing’s new silk roads?” Agatha Kratz is an Associate Policy Fellow for ECFR’s (European Council on Foreign Relations) Asia & China programme, working on China’s economy, outward investments, and reform process. She is also a PhD candidate at King’s College London’s Lau China Institute, studying the internationalisation and modernisation of China’s state-owned enterprise (SOE). Until December 2015, Agatha was Editor-in-Chief of China Analysis. Before joining the ECFR, she was a Junior Fellow at Asia Centre in Paris.

Visible and Invisible Challenges for China’s Health Care System

20 May 2016, 6:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Jane Duckett, University of Glasgow


CHEW Conference 2016: Opening Lecture, 20 May, 6pm, Green Templeton College Lecture Theatre. ‘Visible and Invisible Challenges for China’s Health Care System’ Jane Duckett is Edward Chair of Politics, International Dean (East Asia) and Director of the Scottish Centre for China Research at the University of Glasgow. In 2014 she was elected President of the British Association for Chinese Studies. Jane’s publications include: The Entrepreneurial State in China (Routledge, 1998), The Open Economy and its Enemies (CUP, 2006) (with colleague Bill Miller), The Chinese State’s Retreat from Health: Policy and the Politics of Retrenchment (Routledge hdbk 2011, pbk 2013), China’s Changing Welfare Mix: Local Perspectives (Routledge, 2011) (with Beatriz Carrillo). Her previous research has been funded by the ESRC, Leverhulme Trust, British Council, British Academy and the European Commission. In 2012 she received the Lord Provost of Glasgow Education Award.

Soil, Heads, and Hands: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of Pottery Production in the Wei River Valley

19 May 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof Anke Hein


Ceramics and their production have long been a major concern of archaeological research. To gain further insight into processes of ceramic production and related socio-cultural issues, it has become common to refer to ethnographic data and conduct targeted ethnoarchaeological studies and practical experiments. In research on the Chinese Neolithic ceramic analysis is of crucial importance, but ethnoarchaeological explorations have so far been rather limited. Triggered by the discovery of evidence for large-scale ceramic production at the middle-Yangshao site of Yangguanzhai, Shaanxi, an ethnoarchaeological study of pottery production in the Wei River Valley was conducted, paying particular attention to details of sourcing and manufacture of modern-day pottery production and comparing them with archaeological finds. This study combines the results of both archaeological and ethnographic work with a survey of the geographic background and material analysis on ceramic samples from modern and archaeological context with the aim to gain insight into the preconditions and processes of pottery making in the Wei River Valley in northern China during the Yangshao Period (5000-3000 BC), trying to answer questions on the organization of production and distribution of ceramics and their interconnectedness with the ancient landscape, both in terms of geomorphological preconditions and in terms of socio-political organization within the regional settlement system.   Anke Hein holds the Peter Moores Associate Professorship for Chinese Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology at Oxford. She is an anthropological archaeologist focusing on pre-historic and early historic China. Her main research interest lies with questions of inter-cultural contact and human-environment interaction in the so-called border regions of China and beyond. She has a background in Archaeology and Anthropology as well as Classical Sinology acquired at various research institutions in Germany, China, and the United States. She has been involved in archaeological and ethnographic work in the mountains of Southwest China for many years. In her newest research project, she is turning her attention to another expression of group identities reflected by focusing on patterns of ceramic production and usage in prehistoric Northwest China.  

The Transformation of China’s Innovative Capacity

12 May 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof Bruce McKern , Prof George S. Yip


This talk is based on a four-year program of research at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) Centre on China Innovation and is the subject of the co-authored book, China’s Next Strategic Advantage: From Imitation to Innovation, MIT Press, 2016. Topics:    The three phases in the evolution of the innovation capabilities of Chinese firms    Characteristics of China’s environment that foster innovation, both on the supply and the demand side    The specific nature of Chinese companies’ approach to innovation and the factors driving their foreign expansion    The stages in MNCs’ R&D strategies in China and the evolving significance of China as a base for innovation.    The imperative for MNCs to participate in the Chinese national innovation system, not only for China but also for the world.    How foreign companies can overcome the challenges of conducting innovation in China     Leadership and strategy lessons foreign companies can learn from China   Bruce McKern is Visiting Research Fellow at the Technology & Management Centre for Development, University of Oxford (2015), Saïd Business School, University of Oxford (2016), and INSEAD (2015). He is also former Co-Director of China Europe International Business School (CEIBS)’s Centre on China Innovation and former Director of Stanford University’s Sloan Master’s Program.   George S. Yip is Professor of Strategy at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) and Co-Director of its Centre on China Innovation. He is also Professor of Marketing and Strategy, and Associate Dean—Executive Programmes, Imperial College Business School in London

Policy Perspectives from the Bottom Up: What Do Firm-Level Data Tell Us China Needs to Do

10 May 2016, 12:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof Loren Brandt


Chinese industry combines enormous dynamism with huge inefficiencies. Drawing on extensive firm-level analysis and several hundred firm interviews, this talk offers an explanation for China’s mixed record. Over the last two decades, the most dynamic sectors and those in which Chinese firms have been most successful in narrowing the gap with multinationals are those that have been most open to competition, in which entry and exit have been least encumbered, and firms have been free from the all too “visible” hand of the state. The role of new firms in these sectors is especially prominent. The laggards are often those sectors identified as pillar and strategic. Moving forward, the concern is that China’s continued inward turn in both industry and services, e.g. finance and telecom, runs the risk of making the economy less, and not more dynamic and innovative. Lower productivity and economic growth is a likely consequence. Loren Brandt is the Noranda Chair Professor in International Trade and Economics at the University of Toronto. He is also a research fellow at the IZA (The Institute for the Study of Labor) in Bonn, Germany. He has published widely on the Chinese economy in leading economic journals, and has been involved in extensive household and enterprise survey work in both China and Vietnam. He was co-editor and major contributor to China’s Great Economic Transformation (Cambridge University Press, 2008), a landmark study that provides an integrated analysis of China’s unexpected economic boom of the past three decades. Brandt was also one of the area editors for Oxford University Press’ five-volume The Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History (2003). His current research focuses on issues of industrial upgrading and innovation in China, inequality dynamics, and China’s long run economic growth and structural change.

Mengzi and Lévinas: the Heart Pained by the Other and Subjectivity as Sensibility

5 May 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof Xiaoming Wu (伍晓明)


At the very beginning of the preface to his book Totality and Infinity, French philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas (1906-1995) writes that “everyone will readily agree that it is of highest importance to know whether we are not duped by morality.” This does not mean that Lévinas, a survivor of the Nazi assassination of the Jewish people, is disillusioned with morality. He shows how the human subject, the “I”, is the unique and irreplaceable one, who is necessarily exposed to the other, is unconditionally and infinitely responsible to and for the other. In its exposition to the other, the subject’s “ability” (which is a passivity more passive than any passivity) to be pained by the other is its subjectivity as sensibility (and sensibility as vulnerability), in which Lévinas sees the very humanity of the human. In Lévinas’s characterization of sensibility as the subjectivity of the subject, what interests me is a parallel between this Jewish philosopher and a Confucian thinker, Mengzi 孟子 (372 – 289 BC; alt. 385 – 303/302 BC). Lévinas and Mengzi share their thinking of subjectivity or humanity (性, 人之性) in terms of sensibility. Mengzi lived in a period “when contentions about territory are the ground on which the feudal lords 诸侯 fight, they slaughter men till the fields are filled with them, and when some struggle for a city is the ground on which they fight, they slaughter men till the city is filled with them” (争地以战,杀人盈野;争城以战,杀人盈城). Against such cruel reality, however, Mengzi still believes in the original goodness of man, and sees the beginning of humanity (仁之端) or humanity itself in the human heart that would necessarily be pained by the other (恻隐之心). The human heart that is pained by the other may be seen as sensibility at its extreme. Reading Mengzi in the light of Lévinas and, conversely, reading Lévinas in the light of Mengzi, may contribute to our deeper thinking of the question of the possibility of morality and of how one’s absolute responsibility for others is man’s mandate of heaven (人之天命). Prof Xiaoming Wu (伍晓明) is Associate Professor and Director of Chinese Programme at the University of Canterbury, and Canterbury Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford. He received his BA (1982) in Chinese literature and language from Fudan University and MA (1986) in Chinese and comparative literature from Peking University. Under the supervision of Prof. Daiyun Yue (乐黛云) he completed his thesis, “The influence of Western Romanticism upon modern Chinese literature in the May Fourth period.” In 1989 he went to the University of Sussex to study European philosophy under the guidance of Geoffrey Bennington, focusing on the late French philosopher Jacques Derrida’s thought, and wrote his doctoral dissertation, “Deconstruction and ‘China.’” Prior to his academic career, he was made to work in the countryside for five years, followed with labouring in a factory for three years during the “Cultural Revolution.” His first academic position was an assistant research fellow in the Academy of Social Sciences of Tianjin, 1982-1983. His second position was a lecturer in the Institute of Comparative Literature and Culture at Peking University, 1986-1989. In the United Kingdom, upon finishing his PhD, he taught for one semester in the School of Modern Languages at the University of Westminster before moving to the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.

Right to Life and Protection: Experiences of Families with Children with Disabilities in China

28 April 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof. Xiaoyuan Shang 尚晓援


My co-author and I use a human rights framework to examine why some parents abandon their children with disabilities in China. We apply the framework to three cases that have attracted public debate in China to address these research questions: is the right of life of children with disabilities in China unconditional; in what circumstances do parents decide to abandon their children with disabilities in China; who makes the decision to abandon a child; and who are involved in the decision-making process? The major findings are that first, depending on the family circumstances, some children with disabilities had a higher possibility of being abandoned and their family questioned their right to life as soon as they were born with disabilities. Second, the main reason that the parents abandoned their child was that they believed it was in the best interests of the child otherwise he/she would experience discrimination and disadvantage when he/she grows up. Third, parents were the ones to decide to abandon their child, although the extended family could also get involved. Fourth, the parents’ decision making was informal, sometimes citing professionals’ opinions and involving grandparents. These findings reflect parents’ invidious position in a social policy system where, without adequate support from the government and community, if they do not abandon their child, they are responsible for the full costs of life-long social, economic and other support. Geographical differences in social policy reform and family capacity shape the different patterns of child abandonment. Xiaoyuan Shang 尚晓援 (PhD, University of Sussex, UK) is a Professor, Beijing Normal University, and Associate Professor in the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales (UNSW). She is widely acknowledged as a leading international expert in the study of social welfare provision to vulnerable children in China. In 2014 her research project “Support for China’s Orphans” was selected as the Ten Innovations that Changed Our World, by the UNSW Australia. In 2003, she was awarded the Alice Tay Human Rights Award by Australian-China Council for her significant contribution to improving the understanding of child rights in China. Her main publications in English and Chinese include: Xiaoyuan Shang and Karen R. Fisher (2015) Disability Policy in China: Child and Family Experiences, Routledge, UK;  Xiaoyuan Shang and Karen R. Fisher (2014) Caring for Orphaned Children in China, Lexington Books, PA; China’s System of Social Support to Vulnerable Children (China Social Sciences Academic Press), The Reforms of China’s Social Protection System (China Labour and Social Security Press), and Impacts and Transition: the Development of China’s Civil Society Organizations (China Social Sciences Press). She has also published extensively in leading international and Chinese journals.

China, America and the Future of Power

10 March 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Ketan Patel, CEO, Founder, Greater Pacific


The prospect of China rivalling, matching and succeeding America in geopolitical power has been a key question on the minds of politicians, policy makers and analysts. As China’s economy falters and China builds its military capability and exerts influence in world forum, the question of whether the threat of being overtaken has passed and, if not, how America might respond to such a threat remains a vital issue for the world order. This talk will examine that topic. Ketan Patel, CEO, Founder, Greater Pacific Mr. Patel is the founder and CEO of one of the leading investment businesses in Asia investing in private companies with global potential.  Previously, a Managing Director in the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs, Mr. Patel founded the Strategic Group of Goldman Sachs. Mr. Patel was based in London and New York and also worked in Asia, including India and China, providing strategic counsel to the firm’s corporate, investing and government clients across multiple industries. Formerly, Mr. Patel was a partner at KPMG, a member of the Board, a member of the European Strategy Management Team and started his career as an Analyst for Hewlett Packard in London.

The Traveling Waqf: Property, Religion, and Mobility beyond

3 March 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Matthew Erie


In 1991, a Chinese Muslim (Hui) hajji, living in Linxia, a city Hui call “China’s Little Mecca,” based in northwestern China, opened a package he received from a relative living in Jeddah. Inside, he found a trove of legal documents including a deed written by the warlord Ma Lin and a waqfiyya, or document establishing a waqf (pious endowment, pl. awqāf), dated to 1946.  Female relatives of Ma Lin smuggled the documents out of China in 1949. The waqfiyya is perhaps the last extant waqf document written by and for Hui. Whereas in the late imperial period, Hui regularly founded awqāf, the Communists confiscated all religious lands, prohibiting such endowments. The waqfiyya is legally void; nonetheless, its return represents some of the contradictions of China’s post-1980s Islamic renaissance: law without jurisdiction, property without place, and family without home. This paper argues that whereas shariʿa suffered “structural death” in China, it has its own “afterlife” as illustrated in such legal documents that travel across time assuming new meanings through pilgrimage, memory, and transnationalism. Matthew Erie is an Associate Professor of Modern Chinese Studies in the Oriental Institute at the University of Oxford. He is an anthropologist and comparativist lawyer whose research examines the relationship between law and society in China. Matthew has conducted fieldwork in northwest China since 2004. From 2009 to 2015, he lived for 20 months in Gansu conducting ethnographic research on Islamic law. He is the first Westerner to conduct long-term fieldwork in Linxia, a city Chinese Muslims call “China’s Little Mecca.” His book China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law will be published with Cambridge University Press in May 2016. China and Islam is the first book-length study of Islamic law in contemporary China and one of the first ethnographies in English of law in China.

Mobility as a Local Value: Sino-Japan Cross-Border Marriage as a Gendered Site of Investment

25 February 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Chigusa Yamaura


In a town in northeast China where “going Japan” was a widely shared goal, how did Chinese women enact and experience cross-border marriages with Japanese men? This paper looks at one bride-sending community in northeast China where one in four people claimed to have relatives living in Japan. In this context, finding a Japanese husband through a commercial marriage broker became a gendered site of investment for many Chinese women. However, marriage was not a simple means to an end. The fact that their border crossing involved marriage meant that their experiences were intricately shaped by the norms and meanings of marital practices and rendered them dependent and insecure subjects. Based on multi-sited ethnographic work, this talk will address women’s hopes, struggles, and pressure in these cross-border marriages. Chigusa Yamaura is a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College and a Research Associate at the Nissan Institute of Japanese studies, University of Oxford. She received a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Rutgers University in 2013. Her work on Sino-Japanese cross-border marriages has been published in the Journal of Asian Studies and Anthropological Quarterly.

Ordinary Justice in China over the Past Two Decades

18 February 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Stéphanie Balme


Does the judiciary matter in China? Where does China’s Court system stand today considering the various reform plans carried by the former leadership (Hu Jintao, 2002-2012) and the current leadership (Xi Jinping, since 2012 )? Above all, why is rule of law becoming China’s central challenge? Stéphanie Balme is a Sciences Po’s faculty member. She holds a research fellowship at CERI and professorship at PSIA. She was a visiting professor at Tsinghua University (2006-2012) and Alliance fellow at Colombia University Law School (2014). Her books and articles are primarily about China’s legal and judicial reforms, comparative constitutional law, and Chinese constitutionalism. The latest publication is entitled “Entre faits et droit: Chine, les visages ordinaires de la justice” [Between Facts and Law: China’s Ordinary Faces of Justice] (Presses de Sciences Po, forthcoming in April 2016).

In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China

11 February 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Michael Meyer


Since arriving in the country as one of its first Peace Corps volunteers 20 years ago, Michael Meyer has witnessed and written about the transformation of China, at the level of both an urban neighborhood and a remote village.  His award-winning first book The Last Days of Old Beijing (Bloomsbury) documented changes in the daily life in the capital’s oldest neighborhood as the city remade itself for the 2008 Olympics.  In his second book In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China (Bloomsbury) he describes a town of family rice farms being developed into a corporate agribusiness. Amplifying the story of family and Wasteland, Meyer—via photographs—will take us on a journey across Manchuria’s past, a history that explains much about contemporary China—from the fall of the last emperor to Japanese occupation and Communist victory.  Meyer will also talk about the challenges of reporting from China and how to fund and produce books that reach a wide audience.   Author Michael Meyer received a Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction and a Guggenheim Fellowship following the publication of his first book, The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed (Bloomsbury). His second book, In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China (Bloomsbury) recently won a Lowell Thomas Award for Best Travel Book. A longtime China-based journalist, Meyer’s reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Time, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, Foreign Policy, Architectural Record, Slate, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and on This American Life. He is a member of the National Committee on United States-China Relations’ Public Intellectuals Program, a fellow of the Royal Geographic Society (Hong Kong) and an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, where he teaches nonfiction writing. He is currently based in London, researching a book about Singapore.   

Military State Formation, Sovereignty, and Authenticity in the Wa Hills of China and Burma

4 February 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Hans Steinmüller


The Wa Hills of the China-Burma borderland were not governed by centralised states until the 1960s. This presentation deals with military state formation in the region, focusing on claims to authenticity and sovereignty.   Professor Hans Steinmüller is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics. He is the author of Communities of Complicity: Everyday Ethics in Rural China (Berghahn 2013). His research interests include everyday ethics, family, ritual, gambling, and local governance. In his current research project he deals with kinship and political authority in the borderlands of China and Burma.

Constructing a New Citizen: The Use of Model Workers in Post-Revolutionary Chinese Cinema

28 January 2016, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): James Farley


The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that the intention of the Communist Party of China was to transform the country from being the ‘sick man of Asia’ into a heroic nation of not just the present and the future, but also the past.  Having suffered a ‘century of humiliation,’ a ruinous war with Japan and a highly divisive civil war, China was looking for answers to the problems that had plagued it prior to the Revolution.  Film directors of the 1940s played a key role in identifying the social problems facing China.  However, the newly victorious Communist Party of China was determined to offer radical solutions.  Whilst Mao’s desire to reconstruct Chinese culture has been well documented, less attention has been given to the way in which propaganda was used in a highly integrated way to present this message to the people through different media.  This paper focuses on how specific Model Workers were used not only to inspire the people, but also to create an idealised version of the past.  Cinema was employed to further the Party’s goals of national unity, cultural reform and the construction of a socialist state, and also to define the identity of a loyal citizen.  An examination of a number of relevant films will demonstrate the extent to which cinema propaganda was used to further the aim of developing the Party’s conception of national unity and the creation of the ideal citizen.   James Farley is a doctoral candidate and Assistant Lecturer at the University of Kent.  He is also an assistant with the China Policy Institute at Nottingham University.  He completed his Masters Degree in War, Media and Modernity in 2008 and has worked in China for several years in the education sector.  He was a contributor to the British Library’s exhibition titled ‘Propaganda: Power and Persuasion’ and was given the opportunity to study Chinese at Tongji University as part of the Chinese government’s scholarship programme.   James’ academic research interests focus largely on modern Chinese history, particularly the use of propaganda for the purpose of nation building.  He is currently in the final year of his PhD and is organising a conference to be held in late June (2016) with the title ‘China’s Propaganda System: Legacies and Enduring Themes.’  He is a member of the British Association of Chinese Studies.  

Criminals or Holy Men”: The Image of Monks in Late Imperial Literature

21 January 2016, 5:00 pm



Criminals or Holy Men”: The Image of Monks in Late Imperial Literature The late 16th century (late Ming) Chinese book market witnessed the emergence of a new type of popular literature: courtroom tales, written in colloquial language and sold as cheaply-bound collections. Monks (often Buddhist monks) are completely savaged in this literature: there is no positive image of monks and they are the most common perpetrators of sex-crimes. Such an all-negative portrayal of monks was new to 16th century China and this literary convention extended to the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Did the “criminal monks” image reflect a certain decline in the prestige of institutional religions and the clergy? Or were there more complex social forces behind it? I propose to use these tales as a starting point to explore these social forces and put this literary portrayal of Buddhist monks in a much broader social, religious and legal context.   Biography                                             Wu Junqing is a Past and Present Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research (University of London). She gained her doctorate in 2014 from University of Nottingham with a thesis about the construction of “heresy” in late imperial China through historiography.  She has submitted a revised version as a book to Brill publishers in October 2015. Her current research interest is on anticlericalism, particularly in late imperial China.

Student life in Medieval Dunhuang

3 December 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Imre Galambos


A few dozen manuscripts from Dunhuang contain colophons written by lay students studying at local monasteries during the 9th-10th centuries. Many more manuscripts without colophons can be ascribed to students on the basis of formal characteristics and content, giving evidence of the educational role of Buddhist monasteries in medieval Dunhuang. This talk looks at such manuscripts together in an attempt to uncover information about the students, their background and their life in general. It will also assess the types of texts copied as writing exercise and re-examine our understanding of the category of educational texts.   Dr Imre Galambos is a specialist of Chinese manuscripts, initially working on Warring States scribal habits and publishing a book on the orthography of the Chinese script. After receiving his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, for ten years he worked for the International Dunhuang Project at the British Library, where his research interest gradually shifted to the Dunhuang manuscripts. More recently, he has been also working on Tangut prints and manuscripts from the territory of the Xixia state. Since 2012 he has been teaching at the University of Cambridge. His books include Orthography of Early Chinese Writing (2006), Manuscripts and Travellers (2012, co-authored with Sam van Schaik) and, most recently, Translating Chinese Tradition and Teaching Tangut Culture (2015).

The Chinese Media: TV Host and Programme Production in a Relatively Autonomous Environment

3 December 2015, 1:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof Ting Wang (王婷)

Convenor(s): Dr Jenny Chan

As a crucial disseminator of TV media, the TV host also reflects societal changes in the concept and context of communication, viewing interests, and technological innovation. So how does CCTV (China Central Television), the state-owned TV station with the world’s largest audience, choose their hosts? By sharing personal experiences, Ting Wang will show how TV programmes and Chinese media have changed over the last fifty years, and will reflect on the overall transformation of China’s communication environment.   作为电视媒体最活跃、最生动的体现者和传播者,电视节目主持人不仅仅是媒体品牌认知最显像的标志,更是窥视社会内涵的重要风向标,包括传播观念及其语境的变化,观众收视兴趣的变迁,以及传播技术的革新等等。那么,作为世界上收视观众最多的电视台,中国国有电视台,中央电视台是如何选拔主持人的?讲座人试图通过分享亲身经历,不仅梳理出中国节目及媒体近50年的变迁,更映照出中国传播语境的宏观转变。   Dr Ting Wang is a Professor at the School of Media and Communication, Shenzhen University, who has almost ten years of working in Chinese Media, including her role as a talk-show host for Central China Television. Throughout her career she has pursued her research and teaching in Chinese TV programming, media and culture, and the representation of the Government in the media and its press releases.   Following the publication of her monograph on Government strategy to face the media and discussions on television talk shows, she worked in Beijing and Guangdong as a training tutor to the Chinese Government spokesman on the relationship between Government and the media and Government emergency response procedures. She is now a Deputy Dean of the School of Media and Communication, Shenzhen University, and is also Vice-Chair of the Shenzhen Film and Television Association.

Purity and Order: Toward Social-Cultural Understandings of the Cold War

27 November 2015, 1:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Masuda Hajimu


What was the Cold War? Masuda Hajimu's Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World inquires into the peculiar nature of the Cold War through examining not only centers of policymaking, but seeming aftereffects of Cold War politics: Suppression of counterrevolutionaries in China, the White Terror in Taiwan, the Red Purge in Japan, and McCarthyism in the United States. Such purges were not merely end results of the Cold War, Masuda argues, but forces that necessitated the imagined reality of the Cold War in attempts at restoring purity and tranquility at home. Revealing social functions and popular participation, Masuda highlights ordinary people's roles in making and maintaining the "reality" of the Cold War, raising the question of what the Cold War really was. MASUDA Hajimu is a historian whose work concerns the history of American foreign relations, the modern history of East Asia, and the social and global history of the Cold War. He received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2012, and currently is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the National University of Singapore. He is the author of Cold War Crucible: The Korean Conflict and the Postwar World (Harvard University Press, 2015), and has published a number of book chapters and articles which can be found in Foreign Policy, Diplomatic History, Journal of Contemporary History, Journal of Cold War Studies, and Journal of American-East Asian Relations, as well as IIAS Newsletter and History News Network.

The Inaugural Lecture of the Deutsche Bank Oxford China Centre Lecture Series

26 November 2015, 5:30 pm

Speaker(s): Lord Browne of Madingley

Convenor(s): Professor Rana Mitter

Connect: How Society and Business Need to Reconnect in the West, China, and Beyond The University of Oxford China Centre warmly invites you to the inaugural lecture of the Deutsche Bank Oxford China Centre Lecture Series.   Doors open at 5:30pm, and the lecture will begin at 6pm.  

Eroded Civilizations: China, the United States, and the Construction of Soil Conservation Science

19 November 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Micah Muscolino


Eroded Civilizations: China, the United States, and the Construction of Soil Conservation Science   Prof Micah Muscolino   From the 1930s into the 1950s, American forester and soil erosion expert Walter C. Lowdermilk (1888-1974) stood out as the leading evangelist of the “gospel of soil conservation” and the one with the broadest geographical reach. Lowdermilk established this international scientific authority on the basis of field research conducted in North China’s Shanxi province during the mid-1920s in conjunction with his student, colleague, and collaborator, Ren Chengtong (1898-1973). Ren went on to help pioneer the discipline of soil conservation in China under the Nationalist regime in the 1930s and 1940s, maintaining his prominence in this field well after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. This talk examines how Lowdermilk and Ren constructed a body of knowledge about China’s natural landscape, elaborating a set of comprehensive conservationist principles that would guide human interactions with the environment in China and the wider world.   Micah Muscolino is Jessica Rawson Fellow in Modern Asian History at Merton College and Associate Professor of Chinese History, the University of Oxford. He is the author of The Ecology of War in China: Henan Province, the Yellow River, and Beyond, 1938-1950 (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and Fishing Wars and Environmental Change in Late Imperial and Modern China (Harvard University Asia Center, 2009), as well as numerous articles and book chapters.

House, Kinship and Social Transformations in Modern China

12 November 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Jialing Luo (罗嘉陵)


  Drawing on long-term ethnographic research in an old-town neighourhood (hutong) in central Beijing, I focus on the narratives of hutong residents about their houses and domestic and social relations both in pre-revolutionary times and under state socialism. I also examine the ways in which these discourses change in post-Mao China and their impact on personal life and society at large. I observe the relevance of the collective memories of elderly hutong dwellers to lineage studies pioneered by Maurice Freedman and his contemporaries in their interpretation of the old Chinese state, which successfully established social anthropology in China. However, much of the lived experience of my informants often rejects the timeless and linear image of that construction of the state, rather reflects dramatic social transformations that juxtapose post-Mao practices with socialism and pre-revolutionary norms. Through invoking Bourdieu and Foucault, I argue that despite the emergence of new forms of spatial and kinship relations within a relatively short time span, the presence of the state, with its changing discourses, persists in organising urban space and life. However, the hutong people have demonstrated their adaptability, in one way or another, either to cope with or to use to their advantage the shifting political culture.     Jialing Luo, Professor of Social Anthropology of China, School of Culture & Social Development Studies, Southwest University, China, and a member of the Royal Anthropological Institute. She is currently visiting the University of Oxford China Centre to research for her monograph on the urban construction of Beijing in terms of differing, and sometimes conflicting, discourses of modernism since the mid-19th century, with relevance for the present. She has given a number of talks, lectures and seminars on her work, and has published several articles and book chapters with Routledge and Leiden University Press. She earned her doctoral degree at Cambridge, and previously taught briefly at Oxford as a research associate at the China Centre. Prior to her overseas trainings and work, she had also been intensively involved in a number of World Bank/DFID/UN development projects in rural China, through which she gained insights into contemporary China from different angles.

Zhang Chengzhi 张承志: A Muslim Red Guard in Contemporary China

5 November 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Julia Lovell


In recent years, a neo-Maoist revival has gained some purchase in China, driven both by elite politics (Bo Xilai, Xi Jinping) and by grassroots nostalgia. It is easy to point out the inconsistencies and weaknesses in this political project: the hypocrisy of national leaders who mouth Maoist slogans such as the “mass line” while sending their offspring to Oxford and Harvard; the intellectual shallowness of young neo-Maoists who devoutly quote Mao’s words without reference to their historical consequences. This talk will focus on a more intellectually challenging champion of Maoism: Zhang Chengzhi (b, 1948). Poet, novelist, essayist, archaeologist and ethnographer, Zhang is an unusually complicated and controversial figure in contemporary Chinese culture. Allegedly the inventor of the term ‘Red Guard’ in the context of the Cultural Revolution, he has remained an unapologetic defender of Mao and of the ‘Red Guard spirit’ through the post-Mao decades. In 1987, Zhang converted to an impoverished and ascetic sect of Chinese Islam, the Jahriyya (哲赫忍耶)in Gansu, and since the 2000s he has become one of China’s most prominent spokesmen for global Islam. This talk will explore how Zhang reconciles his zeal for the Cultural Revolution and for Mao, on the one hand, with his Pan-Islamism on the other. Although Zhang’s stance suffers from undoubted contradictions and shortcomings, his career and beliefs demand serious consideration: for the way in which they grapple both with the legacy of Maoism and with the contemporary trajectories of global Islam, drawing on decades of engagement with the geographical, political, cultural and religious complexity of China.        Julia Lovell is reader in modern Chinese history and literature at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of three books on modern China, most recently The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China (2011), which won the 2012 Jan Michalski Prize Her several translations of modern Chinese fiction include Han Shaogong’s A Dictionary of Maqiao (winner of 2011 Newman Prize for Chinese Literature) and Lu Xun’s The Real Story of Ah-Q, and Other Tales of China. She is currently working on a global history of Maoism, and on a new, abridged translation of Journey to the West.

Human trafficking between China and the UK: case studies from the asylum system

29 October 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Jackie Sheehan


Although China has devoted significant attention and resources to the issue of human trafficking in two successive National Action Plans to Combat Trafficking (NAPCT), Chinese nationals trafficked abroad remain a neglected group who in practice tend not to be recognized as victims of trafficking at all. Drawing on a set of more than 60 individual case studies of Chinese citizens trafficked to the UK, this research explores what makes a Chinese woman, man or child vulnerable to being trafficked transnationally, how transnational trafficking operates as an element of the “migration industry” out of China, where trafficking victims end up within the Chinese ethnic economy in the UK, and why Chinese victims of transnational trafficking are poorly served in practice by official support and protection systems both in China and the UK.     Professor Jackie Sheehan joined the School of Asian Studies at University College Cork in September 2013, having spent the previous ten years as Associate Professor in Contemporary Chinese Studies in the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at Nottingham University, and before that lecturing in Chinese and East Asian history at the universities of Nottingham and Keele. With a BA in Chinese Studies from the University of Cambridge and a doctorate in Chinese history from SOAS, she has published on state-enterprise reform, employment issues, industrial relations and labour protests in China; the Cultural Revolution and the democracy movement; Chinese migrant workers in the UK; and human trafficking between China and the UK. In addition to her academic work, she serves as an expert witness in asylum and criminal cases involving Chinese nationals, particularly those related to human trafficking. She is a regular contributor to the China Policy Institute blog at Nottingham University.

Digitalizing Taiwan: From Academic to Public History

17 June 2015, 1:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Chang Lung-Chih, Associate Resarch Fellow, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan


More details to follow shortly

The Oxford University China-Africa Network (OUCAN)

16 June 2015, 10:00 am



This year's conference, titled: "Natural Resources in the Changing Landscape of China-Africa Relations" will focus on changing China-Africa relations and the implications of this for resource-rich countries on the African continent, in petroleum production, mining, agriculture and renewable energy. Details available on the website here:   The conference will bring together a number of distinguished speakers. These include, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa Dr Carlos Lopes, South Sudan's former Minister of Oil Dr. Lual Deng, Chief Director at the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum in Ghana Professor Thomas Akabzaa, Managing Director of Kina Advisory Limited and former Advisor to Tullow Oil, Rosalind Kainyah, Dr. Liu Hongwu, Director of the African Studies Centre at the Zheijang Normal University, Energy Analyst at the International Energy Agency Ali Al-Saffar and others. Panel discussions will be mediated by Dr. Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, Associate Professor of African Politics at the University of Oxford, Dr. Zhang Haibin of Peking University and visiting scholar at the University of Oxford, among other distinguished academics. Further information about registration is available here: For further information on OUCAN, send an email to<>.  

Book Launch: Cross-Taiwan Strait Relations in an Era of Technological Change: Security, Economic and Cultural Dimensions

10 June 2015, 4:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Paul Irwin Crookes, University of Oxford and Jan Knoerich, King's College London


Abstract: This presentation will explore three key questions connected to the role of high-technology in cross-Strait relations which intersect with each of the themes of security, economics and culture that are the subject focus of this new book. First, to what extent has mainland China’s innovation investment in its military and industrial sectors created a meaningful example of technology catch-up that could shift the balance of capabilities from Taiwan to the mainland? Second, does the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) model of growth, fostered so successfully by Taiwanese business elites over the past three decades of investment in the mainland, represent a feasible future approach in the face of policy shifts in cross-Strait economic relations and structural changes to mainland China’s own economy as it seeks to move up the production value chain to directly compete with Taiwan? Third, is the cultural gap between the two communities on both sides of the Taiwan Strait being broken down or reinforced by new media developments in the internet era, and do such new communication channels represent an avenue of delivery for a distinctive cross-Strait dialogue that reduce or exacerbate tensions? In seeking answers to these questions, the presentation will draw on new research presented in this volume which offers a rich source of evidence to explain how changing dynamics across the Taiwan Strait, fuelled by technological change, may be altering the future direction of the cross-Strait relationship. The conclusion suggested in the book is that major changes are indeed taking place, but at a different pace and in different ways across each of the three dimensions under scrutiny. this process, the book offers crucial reflections on how to compare and how to study small nations.” About the speakers: Paul Irwin Crookes is Departmental Lecturer in the International Relations of China and Director of Graduate Studies for the Contemporary China Studies Programme at the University of Oxford. Paul gained his MPhil and PhD degrees from the Centre of International Studies at the University of Cambridge and holds a BSc(Econ) from the LSE. Prior to entering the academic profession, Paul had a successful 20-year career in the international IT industry, which took him on work assignments to the US, Europe, India and China. He has particular research interests in East Asian security, China’s innovation capabilities, EU-China relations, and the development of international regimes. Jan Knoerich is Lecturer in the Economy of China at the Lau China Institute, King’s College London. He obtained his PhD degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. His research examines issues in the contemporary Chinese economy, China’s international economic relations and, in particular, the internationalisation of Chinese enterprises and Chinese outward foreign direct investment. Jan is also interested in the economic development implications of foreign direct investment and international investment policy. He held previous positions at the University of Oxford and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). All are Welcome Convenor: Feng-yi Chu & Paul Irwin Crookes Enquiries: or tel: 01865-274559

Dr Jenny Chan (陳慧玲) presents two labor research projects at the Center for China Studies (5 June) and the 2015 International Conference on Labor, Mobility and Development in PRD (Pearl River Delta) and Beyond (6 June), Chinese University of Hong Kong

5 June 2015, 2:30 pm



5 June 2015 “Apple, Foxconn and China’s New Working Class” Center for China Studies Jenny Chan and her colleagues provide an insiders’ look at China’s “new working class,” by focusing on the giant Taiwanese-owned Foxconn factories that produce consumer electronics for Apple and many other brands. Based on in-depth interviews with workers, managers, and local government officials between 2010 and 2015, they argue that Apple, not Foxconn, reaps the lion’s share of the profits from their relationship, while workers, with no effective union representation, face heavy pressures from the company. Workers have responded—initially with well-publicized suicides of rural migrant workers in Foxconn’s Shenzhen factory—then with strikes and protests at Foxconn factories throughout China. While China’s government warns that direct actions threaten social stability, it was increasingly compelled to arbitrate high-profile disputes at the scene to assure some labor gains at times of crises.   6 June 2015 “Interns or Workers? China’s Student Labor Regime” 2015 International Conference on Labor, Mobility and Development in PRD and Beyond Who are the student interns? How are they recruited and managed at the workplace? In the summer of 2010, Taiwanese-based Foxconn Technology Group—the world’s largest electronics manufacturer—utilized the labor of 150,000 student interns from vocational schools at its facilities all over China. Foxconn, through direct deals with government departments, has outsourced recruitment to vocational schools to obtain a new source of student workers at below minimum wages. The goals and timing of internships are set not by student educational or training priorities but by the demand for products dictated by companies. Based on fieldwork in Sichuan and Guangdong between 2011 and 2012 and follow-up interviews in 2014 and 2015, as well as analysis of the Henan government’s policies on internships, Jenny Chan and her colleagues find that the “student labor regime” has become integral to the capital-state relationship as a means to assure a lower cost and flexible labor supply for Foxconn and others in China. Notwithstanding significant Chinese legal reforms, there remains a deep-seated conflict between state legitimation and local accumulation, with the result that student workers’ rights and interests are sacrificed.

A History of Reading of a French Jesuit in China: Fr. François-Xavier Dentrecolles (1664-1741), his Translations and the Formation of European Knowledge about China

4 June 2015, 5:30 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Wu Huiyi, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Needhan Research Institute, University of Cambridge


It is widely recognized that the formation of modern European knowledge about China since the late 16th century is heavily indebted to Jesuit missionaries; less well-known is the input of Chinese sources to the process. In this talk, I will question the understanding of missionaries’ portrayal of China as a one-sided representation, by showing the overwhelming presence of translated Chinese texts in major 18th century European sinological publications, such as the encyclopedic Description of the Empire of China and Chinese Tartary (Paris, 1735). My other aim is to demonstrate the heterogeneity of missionary knowledge on China as shaped by individual experience rather than predefined by a collective identity. My argument will be substantiated by the case of Father Fr. X. Dentrecolles (1664-1741, in China after 1699), major contributor to the Description, whose translations provides insights into the multifaceted reading experience of a French missionary in early Qing China.   Wu Huiyi is currently the ISF/NRI post-doctoral fellow at Needham Research Institute, Cambridge. She received professional training as a translator, and completed her PhD in history in 2013 under joint supervision between Université Paris Diderot and Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane (Florence). Her dissertation (in French) entitled Translating China in the 18th century: French Jesuits as translators of Chinese texts and the renewal of European knowledge about China (1687-ca. 1740) will be published in 2016 by Editions Honoré Champion, Paris. Her current project examines late 18th century French sinology as shaped by competing State-building and knowledge circulation across the Eurasian continent.

Dan, Boat People, Tanka, and Fishers: Qing and Western Perceptions of the Waterborne Chinese in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

28 May 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Gary Chi-hung Luk, DPhil Candidate, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford


In this talk I discuss how the Qing authorities and Westerners in China saw the Chinese who lived in the coastal, river, and canal regions of China and whose livelihoods depended upon the sea and waterways in the first four decades of the nineteenth century, and in the period of the Opium War (1839­-1842) and its immediate aftermath in particular. This group of people included those who fished, ferried passengers or goods, worked on native craft, and participated in clandestine trade and/or banditry on water. In this talk I hope to achieve two aims. First, given that scholars of late imperial China (1368-1912) have yet to establish the close link between the late imperial Chinese perception of those living afloat and the official control over them, I show that the Qing and Western perceptions of those “waterborne Chinese,” which were largely affected by the imperial Chinese prejudice against fishery and floating residence, shaped the rule of the Qing state and the British government of early colonial Hong Kong over these people. The second purpose of this talk is to clarify, in the context of late imperial China, the meanings of “Dan,” “boat people,” “Tanka,” and “fishers,” the ethnic labels that the Qing administrators and Westerners employed to refer to different, sometimes the same, waterborne Chinese. I argue against the interchangeability of these terms in the scholarship of late imperial Chinese maritime and riverine society.          Gary Chi-hung Luk obtained his MPhil degree in History at the University of Hong Kong and is completing his DPhil in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford.

"Other Cosmopolitans: Emerging Communities and their Chinese lexicon"

26 May 2015, 1:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Yan Haiping, Tsinghua University, Cornell University


Professor Yan works on comparative drama, critical theory, modern Chinese literary and cultural history, transnational and intermedial performance studies. Her books include Theatre and Society: an Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Drama; Other Transnationals: Asian Diaspora in Performance; Chinese Women Writers and the Feminist Imagination, 1905-1948; and Globalization and the Development of Humanistic Studies. She was selected by CNN as one of “six most influential Chinese cultural figures” for her scholarly and creative works in English and Chinese.

Cancelled Seminar: Elite Soteriology in Late Imperial China

21 May 2015, 5:30 pm



Unfortunately, the seminar 'Elite Soteriology in Late Imperial China' due to be given by Dr Vincent Goossaert on Thursday 21st May has been cancelled.

Muddy Waters: Xu Wei’s Predicament of Loyalty

14 May 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Edward Luper, DPhil Candidate, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford


In this talk, I will present a very different Xu Wei from the mad, ‘Van-Gogh’ like artist that attempted suicide nine times and murdered his third wife in a fit of rage. Instead, I examine his writings within the political context of the 16th century, and show how Xu creatively explored his anxiety surrounding the treacherous court politics of the time.   Against the backdrop of Mongol and pirate invasions, Xu’s close friend Shen Lian was executed by the Chief Grand Secretary Yan Song and his clique. Yet only a month after his friend’s execution, Xu switched sides and worked for Hu Zongxian, a protégé of Yan Song. As a ghost writer for Hu Zongxian, Xu wrote obsequious birthday poems to Yan Song, yet was grateful for the money he received, openly naming his new large house, “Hall for the Remuneration of Words”. Yet with the fall of Yan Song in 1562, and the arrest of Hu Zongxian, this became an embarrassment for Xu. Fearing that he would be implicated with the Yan Song clique, Xu did not defend Hu Zongxian, unlike many of his contemporaries, and instead distanced himself from his flattering ghost-written poems and memorials and took a defensive tone.   I will show that that Xu Wei, overwhelmed by feelings of guilt, would continue to find justifications for his actions and explore the complexities of loyalty in his history poetry. He once wrote: “Amidst the darkness who can tell between the vermillion and the azure; In the muddy waters fish all look alike.” Caught between a rock and a hard place, Xu Wei, the artist and poet who is seen by many as the champion of unrestrained personal expression, said apologetically “writings of the hand are of the kind that does not come from the heart…people cannot fault me!”   Edward Luper graduated from SOAS (BA Chinese: Modern and Classical) in 2011, and proceeded to do a Masters at Oxford (MSt Chinese Studies) and DPhil (Oriental Studies). His interest in Xu Wei began during his year abroad at Beijing Normal University when he studied ink painting and calligraphy. He has written articles on Xu Wei’s painting for the forthcoming book, Ming hua quanji 明畫全集, to be published next year in China. He is also currently engaged in a translation of the book, “Introduction to the Art of Chinese Calligraphy” 書法藝術概論by Liu Zhengcheng.

How China Ends Wars (1950-1979): Implications for Contemporary Flashpoints

13 May 2015, 1:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Oriana Skylar Mastro, Assistent Professor of Security Studies, Georgetown University


What factors determine how states try to end wars? This question is particularly relevant to China, as outstanding territorial disputes, strategic rivalries, and nationalist fervor create the possibility of armed conflict between Beijing and its neighbors. Thus, this paper focuses a generally overlooked aspect of Chinese behavior - the strategies its leaders employed in the Korean War, Sino-Indian War, and the Sino-Vietnamese War in their attempts to bring these conflicts to a close. My analysis draws on score of Chinese-language sources, including archival sources, memoirs and authoritative government and military histories. I argue that Chinese leaders have historically exhibited three tendencies that obstruct timely conflict resolution: unwillingness to offer peace talks to stronger opponents, strategic preference for compellence over reassurance, and an overconfidence in the support and influence of third party actors. My findings provide insights into contemporary Chinese military and security strategy by evaluating the conditions under which these past patterns are relevant to future action in the East China Sea, South China Sea and with respect to Taiwan.   Oriana Skylar Mastro is an assistant professor of security studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University where her research focuses on Chinese military and security policy, Asia-Pacific security issues, war termination, and coercive diplomacy. She is also an officer in the United States Air Force Reserve, for which she works as a reserve air attaché for the Asia-Pacific region. Previously, Dr. Mastro was a fellow in the Asia-Pacific Security program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a University of Virginia Miller Center National Fellow and a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Pacific Forum Sasakawa Peace Fellow. Additionally, she has worked on China policy issues at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, RAND Corporation, U.S. Pacific Command, and Project 2049. She holds a B.A. in East Asian Studies from Stanford University and an M.A. and Ph.D in Politics from Princeton University.

Approaching Maturity: The Role of Knowledge and Professionalisation in the Development of Chinese NGOs

12 May 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Jennifer Y.J.Hsu, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada


This paper suggests that Chinese NGOs do not believe they are part of an emerging or established epistemic community, that is, a community of experts. Interviews from four Chinese cities, Chongqing, Kunming, Nanjing and Shanghai, suggests that gathering information and developing a knowledge base is not the dominant tactic NGOs utilise to inform and influence state policy. Rather, establishing direct relations with relevant authorities is the preferred tactic to influence policy deliberation and action. Having close ties with government authorities will serve to benefit individual NGOs, but is likely to undermine the development of the NGO sector as a whole.     Jennifer Y.J. Hsu is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta, Canada. She is currently an Academic Visitor at the Oxford China Centre and St. Antony’s College. At present, she is involved in two collaborative projects. The first project funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada focuses on Chinese NGOs becoming epistemic communities. With the support of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, her second project examines the internationalization of Chinese NGOs and their role in international development.  She has published in various journals including Urban Studies and The China Quarterly. She has a forthcoming co-edited volume NGO Governance and Management in China.

CHEW Conference 2015: Policy Reforms in China’s Health, Environment and Welfare

8 May 2015, 9:30 am



CHEW Conference 2015 aims to bring together academics, policy practitioners and other experts from diverse disciplinary backgrounds working on a range of contemporary issues relevant to China’s health, environment and welfare. Our focus is on policy reforms recently implemented in these areas and their observed or likely effects, and also on suggestions for new reforms required to meet the challenges. REGISTER NOW

Reasons for Remembering: Audiences and Aims of the mid-Tang muzhiming

7 May 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Alexei Ditter, Associate Professor of Chinese, Reed College, Portalnd, Oregon, USA


Muzhiming (Tomb Epitaph Inscriptions) are biographical accounts that were carved onto rectangular blocks of limestone and placed within the tomb of their subject. Within muzhiming, mid-Tang writers often explicitly claim that they had written the text to serve two objectives: to preserve the memory of their deceased subject and to provide an account to help identify the tomb occupant in perpetuity. Careful reading however suggests that they were used to realize a number of additional aims as well: to explain or justify why particular burial practices were followed, to vindicate past deeds or preserve alternate accounts of events, to record and praise the filiality, loyalty, or generosity of friends and family members of the deceased, to advertise the skill and talents of their authors, or to make arguments about contemporary social, religious, or literary practices. Focusing on muzhiming written between 760 and 840, this paper catalogues the diverse objectives writers sought to realize in their compositions and examines what the increasing diversification of aims suggests about the audiences these texts were intended to reach and how these compositions may have circulated in their own time.    Alexei Ditter is an Associate Professor of Chinese at Reed College in Portland, OR, USA. His research explores the interaction between social and textual practices in medieval Chinese literature, focusing in particular on questions of place, genre, and memory. His articles, published and forthcoming, discuss the writing of literary histories of the Tang dynasty in the 20th century, conceptions of urban space in Duan Chengshi's 9th century Records of Monasteries and Stupas, civil examinations and cover letters in the mid-Tang, and the commercialization of muzhiming writing in the mid- to late-Tang. He is currently working on two monograph projects—one examining changing practices and styles of prose writing in China’s late-8th and early-9th centuries, the other studying genre and memory in medieval Chinese literature—and co-editing a volume of translations of tales from the late 10th century anthology Taiping guangji.

Is there a labour movement in China?

7 May 2015, 1:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Tim Pringle, Senior Lecturer in Labour, Social Movements and Development, Department of Development Studies, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of London


The frequency and outcomes of strikes in China over the past decade have led scholars and activists alike to ask this question. This talk will tackle the issue via a brief historical tour of labour relations and industrial unrest in pre-reform China as a context for a discussion of more recent waves of militancy. Using a ‘key strike’ approach, we will examine important disputes which, while not necessarily acting as ‘game-changers’ in the broader scheme of things in China, have nevertheless generated significant settlements that have had an impact beyond a simple raise in wages to get people back to the work. As the title implies, the discussion will be wide-ranging and touch on themes central to the ongoing evolution of labour relations in China including: labour and trade union law, the changing nature of labour protests, labour dispute resolutions including collective bargaining, the reform – or not – of the China’s one legal trade union, the role of civil society and class formation, not least the apparent proletarianisation of the ‘peasant worker’.    Tim entered academia relatively late in life. He spent the first third of his working life to date in construction and warehouse work before moving to Asia where he was able to combine activism in union work with a deep interest in labour relations in China. For over a decade, he worked with various labour rights organisations in Hong Kong and Mainland China. At the tender age of 45, Tim embarked on a PhD program at the University of Warwick while simultaneously working as a co-investigator on a major research project examining trade union reform in Russia, China and Vietnam. Tim has published his research in numerous trade union, labour NGO and peer-reviewed journals and contributed chapters to many edited books. He has recently published two books:  Trade Unions in China: the challenge of labour unrest (Routledge 2013) and The Challenge of Transition: trade unions in Russia, China and Vietnam (Palgrave 2011) with Professor Simon Clarke. He currently works as a Senior Lecturer at SOAS, University of London where he convenes an MSc in Labour, Social Movements and Development.

A Sense of Disaster: Experiencing the 1931 Hankou Flood

30 April 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Christopher Courtney, Research Fellow, Department of History, University of Cambridge


  In 1931 a devastating flood struck China, inundating an area the size Britain and affecting the lives of an estimated 52 million people. Focussing upon the example of the city of Hankou, this paper seeks to give an impression of this disaster as a lived experience. Whilst historians often analyse floods as problems for hydraulic networks or relief institutions, for those living in affected areas the experience of inundation unfolds as a succession of horrifying visions, strange sounds, revolting tastes, and repellent odours.  Drawing upon insights from the field of sensory history, this paper uses a range of witness accounts to examine the phenomenal world created by floodwater in 1931. In doing so, it questions assumptions made about the emotional and behavioural reactions that communities display during disasters. It also reveals how the sensory experiences of floods vary widely, reflecting social and economic distinctions within inundated communities.   Chris Courtney is a Research Fellow in Chinese History at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge. His current research focuses on the problem of flooding in twentieth-century Hubei. His published and forthcoming work examines a range of issues, including the popular religious understanding of the environment and changing patterns of Chinese hydraulic governance since the Republican period. He is currently completing a monograph on the subject of the 1931 Central China Flood. He will shortly be taking up a post as a visiting fellow at the National University of Singapore, where he will conduct research focussing upon the social history of the environment in the city of Wuhan, 1911-2015.

Will China Democratize?

19 March 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr. Teng Biao, Human Rights Lawyer and Visiting Fellow, Harvard Law School


Dr. Teng Biao is an academic lawyer and a human rights activist. He was formerly a Lecturer in the China University of Political Science and Law, and currently a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School. In 2003, he was one of the ‘Three Doctors of Law’ who complained to the National People’s Congress about unconstitutional detentions of internal migrants in the widely known ‘Sun Zhigang Case.’ Since then, Teng has provided counsel in numerous other human rights cases, including those of rural rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, rights defender Hu Jia, the religious freedom case of Cai Zhuohua and Wang Bo, and numerous death penalty cases. He co-founded “Open Constitution Initiative” (Gongmeng) and is also the founder and President of China Against the Death Penalty, Beijing. Teng is a promoter of the Rights Defense Movement and a co-initiator of the New Citizens Movement.

Ticket to Ride: Transportation and Mobility in Republican China

12 March 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Elisabeth Köll, Associate Professor, Entrepreneurial Management, Harvard Business School; Visiting Associate Professor, Department of History, Hardvard University


This talk will present various social, economic, and business aspects of passenger travel and mobility via Chinese railroads prior to 1937. Two features of the passenger business stand out from the body of statistics: first, the public’s overwhelming tendency to use the rail system for short-distance travel; and secondly, the high cost of rail tickets relative to the purchasing power of Chinese people at the time. As I argue, these two features reinforced the local and regional impact of the railroads that characterized much of China’s rail freight business in the early 20th century. From a social perspective, the paper discusses in detail how China’s railroads applied “modern” standards of efficiency and discipline in time keeping, personal behavior, gender interaction, and public health. Based on archival material produced by railroad institutions, diaries, newspapers, and literary sources my paper explores the disciplinary and aspirational aspects of rail travel in Republican China and the question to what extent railroads did not just transport people but transform them. Elisabeth Köll is an Associate Professor in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at the Harvard Business School. As a business historian her work focuses on economic institutions and practices in the context of China’s evolving modern state, economy and society. Her research has explored the legal and managerial evolution of enterprises in China and the process of industrialization and technology transfer throughout the 20th century. Publications include From Cotton Mill to Business Enterprise: The Emergence of Regional Enterprises in Modern China (2003) and various articles, book chapters and case studies. Currently she is completing the book manuscript Railroads and the Making of Modern China, an institutional analysis of how railroads as new technology and infrastructure contributed to China’s economic and social transformation from 1895 to the late 20th century. Her next project will be a transnational history of engineering in pre-war China and East Asia.

Destructing and Reconstructing Buddhist Sacred Places in Modern China

5 March 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Gregory Adam Scott 史瑞戈 is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Edinburgh.


From 1866 to 1966, from the aftermath of the Taiping Rebellion through to the eve of the Cultural Revolution, countless Buddhist temples, monasteries, shrines, pagodas, pavilions, and other sacred spaces in China were destroyed. Destruction came at the hands of rebels, marauding soldiers, official anti-religious campaigns, civil and world wars, or simply from neglect as buildings were left to the mercy of the elements. Hundreds of sacred spaces were also, however, restored through enthusiastic reconstruction campaigns led by monastics and laypeople. This presentation introduces my current research project on the modern history of Chinese Buddhist monastic restoration and reconstruction. My goal is to explore the complex material, social, political, and religious connections between rebuilding material spaces and re-imagining religious orthodoxy. Building upon the work of Holmes Welch while critiquing his interpretations, I seek to understand this period of Chinese religious history not as one of 'revival' or 'modernism', but rather as a reconstruction; one that involved old materials and new technologies, and which followed longstanding patterns of institutional regeneration while making use of new networks and forms of power in its creative rebuilding of the Chinese Buddhist edifice. Gregory Adam Scott 史瑞戈 is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. His current research project examines the reconstruction of Buddhist sacred sites in modern China and its relationship to the reconstruction of Buddhist religiosity. He has studied at York University and the University of Toronto, and was a visiting scholar at the Institute of Modern History at Academia Sinica in Taiwan. He received his PhD in Chinese Buddhism from Columbia University in 2013, and was a digital humanities postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh. He is most recently co-editor of and chapter contributor to Religious Publishing and Print Culture in Modern China, 1800-2012 (Boston; Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015).

Day school: China, World Capitalism and Workers’ Resistance A one day Conference Hosted by International Socialism (A Quarterly Journal of Socialist Theory)

28 February 2015, 10:30 am



China’s dramatic economic growth and development, now extending over three-and-a-half decades, has transformed its economy and society. China’s economic transformation is then of huge significance and its impact on the regional and global political economy is such that many serious commentators now argue that the West’s global dominance is being over-turned. At the very least, China’s rise is posing questions for the US over its continued global pre-eminence that it has not faced since the Cold War. In recent years China has also become more prominent as an international investor, investing billions of dollars in Africa and in other parts of the world. It is in this context that the Japan-bashing of the US Congress in the 1980s has given way to contemporary China-bashing. But while the world’s most powerful groups of rulers demonstrate that inter-state rivalry did not end with the twentieth century, Chinese workers, such as those at Foxconn making products for Apple, not only endure long hours and miserable working conditions but also fight back via militant strike action. This resistance has not been lost on the unprecedented movement for democracy in Hong Kong, which has engaged a new generation of young activists. This one-day conference will explore some of the key issues thrown up by China’s rise and provides an important opportunity for the left to share perspectives on the consequences and contradictions of China’s rise. It will include sessions on the political economy of China, the geo-political impact of China’s growing assertiveness and US efforts to contain it, and the movements of resistance and workers’ self-activity Sessions on: The Political Economy of China Today China in the World Labour struggles, the umbrella protests and new movements for democracy   Speakers include: ·  Tim Pringle, lecturer at SOAS and author of Trade Unions in China: The Challenge of Labour Unrest ·  Jenny Chan, lecturer at Oxford and expert on labour in China and the workers at Foxconn in particular; co-author of Dying for an iPhone (with Ngai Pun and Mark Selden, forthcoming).  ·  Jane Hardy, professor of political economy at University of Hertfordshire and author of Poland’s New Capitalism ·  Adrian Budd, lecturer in politics at London South Bank University and author of Class, States and International Relations: a critical appraisal of Robert Cox and neo-Gramscian theory   URL:      

Occidentalism in Chinese Debates on Great Power Identity

26 February 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Shogo Suzuki is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Politics, University of Manchester.


This talk joins recent debates on China’s rise that claim the People’s Republic of China has become increasingly ‘assertive’. By examining discourses calling for China to emulate Western great powers, I argue that there remains a powerful discourse within Chinese society which regards Western standards as the sole ‘benchmark’ for success and recognition in the international community. In doing so, I introduce the concept of ‘Occidentalism’, which is a belief that a state’s identity is deeply connected to Western recognition, and which constructs a highly idealised and essentialised ‘Western Other’ to promote particular political reforms. The existence of ‘Occidentalism’ in domestic debates on China’s future as a great power demonstrates that claims of China’s ‘assertive turn’ are premature, and those who call for a more muscular Chinese foreign policy are one of many voices within Chinese political circles.  

儒家禮樂文明簡論》 (this lecture will be in Chinese)

23 February 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof. PENG Lin 彭林, Professor, Department of History, Tsinghua University; Director, Tsinghua University Research Center for Chinese Ritual (清華大學中國禮學研究中心主任)


China at Crossroads: The “Neoliberal Model” versus the “Golden Age Model”?

19 February 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr. Dic Lo, Reader in Economics, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), London University; Co-Director of the Centre of Research in Political Economy, Renmin University.


The slowdown in Chinese economic growth in recent years has caused worldwide concern. Is it long-term, or is it transitional/cyclical? And what should be the appropriate policy responses, regarding both reform and development? This paper posits that Chinese economic transformation since the turn of the century has tended to converge to the Golden Age Model. Characteristic of the model is rapid productivity and wage growth, underpinned by “Big Business, Big Labour, and Big Government”. Yet, because of its fundamental deviation from the Neoliberal Model, there is no certainty that this direction of transformation will continue to prevail in the future. Much depends on the rivalry between the political-economic forces behind the two models. Keywords: China, economic transformation, Golden Age Model, neoliberalism   Dr. Dic Lo is Reader in Economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, U.K. He is also adjunct professor with the School of Economics, Renmin University of China. He is on the editorial board of The Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, and Zhengzhi Jingjixue Pinglun (China Review of Political Economy). Dic Lo has researched and written on a wide range of issues in contemporary Chinese political economy. He has published articles in Chinese and international journals including The China Quarterly, The Cambridge Journal of Economics, Review of Radical Political Economics, and Jingji Yanjiu (Economic Research Journal). He is author of Alternatives to Neoliberal Globalization: Studies in the Political Economy of Institutions and Late Development (2012, London, Palgrave).

The End of Cheap Labour? Industrial Transformation and Social Upgrading in China

16 February 2015, 5:00 pm



China’s economy is in a state of rapid transformation. As the former growth model based on an extensive reliance on cheap labour, land and resources meets its limits, government and enterprises strive to upgrade their operations towards higher value-added activities. What are the trajectories of this transformations and what does this entail for workers? Florian Butollo, assistant professor at the University of Jena (Germany), presents the core content of his book "The End of Cheap Labour? Industrial Transformation and Social Upgrading in China“ which is based on empirical investigations in enterprises of the Pearl River Delta.   Florian Butollo is assistant professor at the Department of Labour, Industrial and Economic Sociology in Jena, Germany. He wrote his dissertation on "The End of Cheap Labour in China? Social Impacts of Industrial Upgrading in the LED Lighting and the Textile and Garment Industries of the Pearl River Delta" at the University of Frankfurt. The dissertation was honoured with the 2013 Jörg-Huffschmid award and the Science Award of Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation in Saxony. Butollo had worked with the German NGO "World Economy, Ecology and Development - WEED" in a project about labour rights in the global computer industry. His main research interests are: industrial change in China, labour relations and social conflict in China (and elsewhere), political economy of development.   Book The Chinese government and international observers agree that China’s domestic consumption needs to be strengthened and the economy's excessive dependence on exports and investment must be overcome if economic growth is to be sustained. Yet for this shift to occur, substantial income growth for China’s workers are required. It is therefore of paramount importance for the future of China’s economy that industrial transformation also entails “social upgrading”, i.e. improvements in wages and working conditions for China’s workers. Florian Butollo investigates this question based on an assessment of the recent government-led efforts to “rebalance” the economy and a thorough empirical study of enterprises in the Pearl River Delta, China’s heartland of export production. His findings from the garment and LED lighting industries reveal that industrial upgrading in fact rarely supports qualitative improvements in working conditions and wages. This failure to accomplish “social upgrading” threatens to undermine the desired rebalancing of the Chinese economy.    

Rebellion and Repression in China, 1966-1971

13 February 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Andrew G. Walder, Denise O'Leary & Kent Thirty Professor, School of Humanities and Sciences; Senior Fellow, Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies; Professor in Political Science at Stanford University


In the first five years after the onset of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, one of the largest political upheavals of the 20th century paralyzed a highly centralized party state, leading to a harsh regime of military control. Despite a wave of post-Mao revelations in the 1980s, knowledge about the nationwide impact of this insurgency and its suppression remains selective and impressionistic, based primarily on a handful of local accounts. Employing a dataset drawn from historical narratives published in 2,213 county and city annals, this article charts the temporal and geographic spread of a mass insurgency, its evolution through time, and the repression through which militarized state structures were rebuilt. Comparisons of published figures with internal investigation reports, and statistical estimates from sample selection models, yield estimates that range from 1.1 to 1.6 million deaths and 22 to 30 million direct victims of some form of political persecution. The vast majority of casualties were due to repression by authorities, not the actions of insurgents. Despite the large overall death toll, per capita death rates were considerably lower than a range of comparable cases, including the Soviet purges at the height of Stalinist terror in the late 1930s.   Andrew G. Walder, is the Denise O’Leary and Kent Thiry Professor, School of Humanities and Sciences, at Stanford University, where he is a member of the Department of Sociology and a Senior Fellow in the Freeman-Spogli Institute of International Studies. He has previously taught at Columbia and Harvard, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). He has published widely on political economy, social structure, inequality, social mobility, and political conflict under state socialism and afterwards, with a special emphasis on contemporary China. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, former Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral and Social Sciences, and a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. His most recent book is Fractured Rebellion: The Beijing Red Guard Movement (Harvard University Press, 2009). His next book, China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed (Harvard University Press), will be published this April.

The Costs of Political Connections: Firms, Taxes, and Corporate Restructuring in China

12 February 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Jean Oi, William Haas Professor in Chinese Politics at Stanford University; Lee Shau Kee Director, Stanford Centre at Peking University


While the common perception is that China’s “helping hand” government provides preferential treatment to its politically connected firms, our research shows that political connection involve both costs and benefits. Based on nationwide surveys of the same Chinese firms before and after restructuring over an eleven-year period, we found that firms with managers who are directly politically connected, i.e., those where managers continued to be appointed or approved by the government, are most likely to pay more in taxes, independent of profits.  While the findings about taxes is contrary to earlier studies of post-communist systems in the wake of privatization, the logic is consistent. We argue that the answer to these puzzles lies in the nature of the corporate restructuring in China that has created incentives to increase tax collection by local governments and tax payment by restructured firms.  Our empirical findings allow one of the first instances where we can observe and measure the heretofore unexplored costs of political connections in state firm relations.    Jean C. Oi is the William Haas Professor in Chinese Politics in the Department of Political Science and a senior fellow of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University, where she directs the China Program.  Leading Stanford’s China Initiative, she helped establish Stanford’s Center at Peking University (SCPKU), where she is the founding Lee Shau Kee Director. A Ph.D. in political science from the University of Michigan, she joined the Stanford faculty in 1997.  Earlier she taught at Lehigh University and then at Harvard University.  Her work focuses on comparative politics, with special expertise on political economy and the process of reform in transitional systems.  Oi has written extensively on China's rural politics and political economy, including State and Peasant in Contemporary China (University of California Press, 1989) and Rural China Takes Off (University of California Press, 1999).      More recently, she has been working on the politics of corporate restructuring, with a focus on the incentives and institutional constraints of state actors.  She published Going Private in China: The Politics of Corporate Restructuring and System Reform (2011).  Oi also continues her research on rural finance and local governance in China and published “Shifting Fiscal Control to Limit Cadre Power in China’s Townships and Villages,” in The China Quarterly, with Kim Singer Babiarz, Linxiu Zhang, Renfu Luo, and Scott Rozelle.  Most recently, she has been studying challenges in China’s rapid urbanization.  She has been doing fieldwork on the organization of rural communities and the provision of public goods, especially affordable housing.

Redemptive Religious Societies(会道门)in the People’s Republic of China, 1949 to the present

5 February 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Steve Smith, Professor of History; Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, University of Oxford


There is a now substantial literature on the redemptive religious societies in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and a growing literature on growth of the societies in the republican era and on their fate in the People’s Republic of China during the reform era (mainly about Falungong). As yet, however, almost nothing has been written on the fate of what the Communists called the ‘reactionary sects’ (fandong huidaomen) during the thirty years following their suppression in the early 1950s.  The talk examines Communist perceptions of and policies towards the redemptive societies; it asks how far the societies represented a threat to the regime and how far they perceived themselves as locked in battle with the state; and, finally, it asks how the societies managed to survive intense persecution so as to revive rapidly once the reform era began.   Biography Steve (S. A.) Smith is a Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, and a historian of modern China and Russia. His books include A Road is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-27 (2000), Like Cattle and Horses: Nationalism and Labor in Shanghai, 1895-1927  (Durham, 2002) and Revolution and the People in Russia and China: A Comparative History (2008). He edited the Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism, a collection of 36 essays on communism in a global perspective, which was published by Oxford University Press last year.  He is working on a comparative history of the state’s efforts to extirpate ‘feudal superstition’ from popular culture in the Soviet Union (1917-41) and China (1949-76).

Thinking Creatively: Republican Era Theology as Fiction and Biji

29 January 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Chloe Starr, Associate Professor of Asian Christianity and Theology, Yale Divinity School


The Republican era saw the greatest flourishing of Chinese theology since the seventeenth century. This presentation considers two works by leading Christian thinkers of the 1930s, the Shanghai Jesuit Xu Zongze and the Anglican professor Zhao Zichen, to develop the argument that Chinese theological thinking itself has been influenced by Chinese literary forms and traditions. Xu Zongze’s Sui si sui bi (Pencillus Liber, 1940) gathers together short entries on a range of topics that Xu had published in the magazine Shengjiao zazhi between 1934 and 1937. These jottings, printed in the back pages of each issue, provide tantalizing sparks to illuminate the question of how Christianity, universally understood, could speak to a Chinese situation, through the common-sense of a Chinese-rooted, western-trained, Catholic church leader. Zhao Zichen’s fictional biography Yesu zhuan (Life of Jesus, 1935) was a deliberate attempt at contextualization, an intellectual exercise and a personal confession, with the aim of meeting a pastoral as well as theological need. It stands as one of the purest expressions of Chinese Christianity employing its own intellectual forms and interests in seeking to instil, or increase, faith.

Beggars can’t be choosers? The euro crisis and the rise of Chinese direct investment in Europe

29 January 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Sophie Meunier, Princeton University. Paul Irwin Crookes, China Studies, SIAS. Thomas Hale, Blavatnik School of Government. Kalypso Nicolaïdis, St Antony’s College


Co-sponsored by the China Centre, Centre for International Studies and the Global Economic Governance Programme

China’s Slowdown: What consequences for developing countries?

23 January 2015, 2:00 pm


Convenor(s): Global Economic Governance Programme

Speaker: David Lubin, Head of Emerging Markets Economics at Citigroup Discussant: Ian Taylor, Professor in International Relations and African Politics, University of St. Andrews Developing and emerging economies became increasingly ‘China-dependent’ over the last decade. In many countries, growth was fuelled by Chinese commodity demands and Asian regional integration. Now, China’s growth is slowing and the country seems to be rebalancing its domestic economy. What will this mean for developing countries and global markets? How will it affect China’s global economic position?

How Much Does The Chinese State Cost?

22 January 2015, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Stein Ringen, Professor of Sociology and Social Policy; Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford

Convenor(s): Professor Rana Mitter

States give and take. The balance is crucial in good government, that the state gives its population regulations and services according to needs and takes in taxes and otherwise what is proportionate and fair. This seminar considers half of that account for the Chinese state. The Chinese state is a party-state that presides over a socialist market economy. It operates both through its system of public administration and its dominance of the economy. It extracts resources from the population not only by what goes under the name of 'taxation' but also economically by for example labour market regulations and land transactions. What are the sources of extraction all considered? How much do they yield? How is the burden distributed?     Stein Ringen is Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford. He is Visiting Professor at Richmond, The American International University in London and Adjunct Professor at Lillehammer University College in Norway. He was Professor of Welfare Studies at the University of Stockholm and has held visiting professorships and fellowships in Paris, Berlin, Prague, Brno, Barbados, Jerusalem, Sydney, Hong Kong and at Harvard University. He has been Assistant Director General in the Norwegian Ministry of Justice, a consultant to the United Nations and a news and feature reporter with the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. He is currently conducting a study of the Chinese state. His books include What Democracy Is For: On Freedom and Moral Government (Princeton 2007); The Korean State and Social Policy: How South Korea Lifted Itself from Poverty and Dictatorship to Affluence and Democracy, co-authored, Oxford 2011) and The Possibility of Politics (Oxford 1987 and Transaction 2006). His most recent book is Nation of Devils: Democratic Leadership and the Problem of Obedience (Yale 2013), described by the Economist as 'demanding and idealistic, yes, but also democracy for grown-ups.'  

Measuring Hard Power: China’s Economic Growth and Military Capacity

28 November 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof. Peter Robertson, Winthrop Professor in Economics, School of Business, The University of Western Australia

Convenor(s): Professor Barend Ter Haar and Dr Jenny Chan

From Rooster Weddings to Aesthetic Fatigue: China’s Unfolding Romantic Revolution

27 November 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Melissa Haines Schneider

Convenor(s): Professor Barend Ter Haar and Dr Jenny Chan

  Melissa Schneider From Rooster Weddings to Aesthetic Fatigue: China’s Unfolding Romantic Revolution Abstract:  Imagine a world where nobody says “I love you,” sex is a mystery until the wedding day, and romance has nothing to do with the serious business of marriage.  Then fast-forward a mere sixty years, to a place where teenagers hold hands in public, young parents go out for dates—by themselves—on Valentine’s Day, and grandmas dream of having “that spark” with someone before they die.  This is…China?  Join Melissa Schneider, author of The Ugly Wife Is a Treasure At Home: True Stories Of Love and Marriage in Communist China, as she brings us inside the mainland’s unfolding romantic revolution.  From the early communists who taught budding cadres to “search for their beloved” to today’s “modern parents” who permit teen dating, the story of romantic love in China is full of surprises.  But as China’s mistresses and ugly wives, matchmakers and leftover men can attest, the social changes taking place over the last ten to fifteen years are utterly unprecedented.  The mainland’s romantic revolution is here, but will it have the power to reshape marriage in China?  Ultimately, can love conquer Confucius?  Ms. Schneider will share her findings from two years of interviewing in Shenzhen, China, conducted on a quest to answer this very question.  Read a sample of The Ugly Wife here. About the speaker:  Melissa Schneider, LMSW, is a couples therapist and author with a keen interest in the long-term factors that predict relationship stability and happiness.  She moved to Shenzhen, China two days after her own wedding, where she grew curious about the unfamiliar dynamics underpinning love and relationships on the mainland.  Over the next two years, she interviewed forty-eight people born since the rise of the communist regime, publishing their stories in The Ugly Wife is a Treasure at Home: True Stores of Love and Marriage in Communist China.  In addition to her relationship counseling work, Ms. Schneider blogs and writes about the science of smarter relationships, and recently spoke about the predictors of successful dating on the Freakonomics podcast.  Ms. Schneider has a Masters in Clinical Social Work from Columbia University and lives near New York City with her husband Matthew.      

The Aesthetics of the Maoist Ideology, the Ideology of the Maoist Aesthetics

20 November 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof. PANG Laikwan (彭麗君), Professor, Department of Cultural and Religious Studies Chinese University of Hong Kong

Convenor(s): Professor Barend Ter Haar and Dr Jenny Chan

近世江南家族、文化与地域社会的互动研究 (A study on the interaction between family, culture and local society of the Jiangnan Area in Ming-Qing dynasties)

13 November 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Xu Maoming (徐茂明), Shanghai Normal University

Convenor(s): Professor Barend Ter Haar and Dr Jenny Chan

Poverty Alleviation in Western China

12 November 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Jin Wei, Party School, Beijing

Convenor(s): Professor Barend Ter Haar and Dr Jenny Chan

Professor Jin assesses the accomplishments and limitations of government aid programs to ethnic groups in Tibet. She calls on active participation from the local communities and the overhaul of state alleviation policies. The goal is to enhance the efficiency and sustinability of the large-scale development projects. 靳薇教授的研究领域包括民族问题理论及政策、公共卫生与社会政策等,近著“西藏援助与发展”(2010年,西藏人民出版社)。

Title to be announced later

6 November 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof. David Faure, Wei Lun Professor of History, The Chinese University of Hong Kong; Director, Center for China Studies

Convenor(s): Professor Barend Ter Haar and Dr Jenny Chan

Seminar Series Chinese Law, Session 2: Legal institutions

6 November 2014, 3:00 pm


Convenor(s): Dr Rogier Creemers

Since 1978, China’s legal institutions have expanded in size, strengthened their position within the state constellation, and professionalized their staff. At the same time, they have not gained substantial autonomy and independence, while alternative forms of dispute settlement outside of formal litigation have been fostered as well. This session will discuss the structure and role of Chinese courts and procuratorates, as well as less formal forms of presenting and resolving claims.

Is It Really Possible for Western Democracies to Collaborate Closely With a Leninist State Like China?

5 November 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Orville Schell, Arthur Ross Director of the Center on US-China Relations at Asia Society New York

Convenor(s): Professor Barend Ter Haar and Dr Jenny Chan

British Mortality in Early Nineteenth-Century South China

30 October 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof. John M. Carroll, University of Hong Kong

Convenor(s): Professor Barend Ter Haar and Dr Jenny Chan

From Colonial to Sinophone Modernity: Science and the Transformations of Sex in Twentieth-Century China

23 October 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Prof. Howard Chiang, University of Warwick

Convenor(s): Professor Barend Ter Haar and Dr Jenny Chan

This presentation will be drawn from my book-in-progress, “After Eunuchs: Science and the Transformations of Sex in Modern China.” It will deal with the history of sex change and scientific modernity in twentieth-century China.  By building a genealogy from the demise of castration to the emergence of transsexuality, the project explores the formation of a psycho-biological notion of sex in Chinese culture, with a particular emphasis on the historical interactions of Western biomedical knowledge, the body, and transnational geopolitics.  In tracing the ways in which the meaning of sex evolved over time in the first half of the twentieth century, the story begins with the global perception of Chinese eunuchs as relics of the past and concludes with the media sensationalism showered on the “first” Chinese male-to-female transsexual, Xie Jianshun, in postwar Taiwan.  This talk carries the dual ambition of mapping the history of China’s modern “geobody” onto the more focused history of the biomedicalized human body, and providing insight into the study of China and Taiwan from a non-Eurocentric postcolonial perspective.

Seminar Series Chinese Law, Session 1: Introduction

23 October 2014, 3:00 pm


Convenor(s): Dr Rogier Creemers

Tremendous reform has taken place in China’s legal system, developing from a nearly moribund state at the end of the Cultural Revolution to great intricacy and complexity today. Institutions have been established and developed, thousands of legal and regulatory documents have been promulgated, while the legal profession and legal academia have been consolidated. However, the question is what this means for the position and role of law in governing China’s economic, political and social processes. This session will discuss different angles of understanding the Chinese legal system, including questions of perspectives to take in studying Chinese law, the basic aspects of institutional and structural developments, and the question of who useful “rule of law” can be in the study of Chinese law.   

China’s Rise and Structural Transformation in Africa: Ideas and Opportunities

17 October 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Justin Yifu Lin (Peking University)


Justin Yifu Lin is currently professor and honorary dean, National School of Development at Peking University, and vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce. He was the senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank, 2008-2012. Prior to joining the Bank he served for fifteen years as founding director and professor of the China Centre for Economic Research (CCER) at Peking University. He is the author of 24 books including Against the Consensus: Reflections on the Great Recession, The Quest for Prosperity: How Developing Countries can Take Off, New Structural Economics: A Framework for Rethinking Development and Policy, Demystifying the Chinese Economy, and Economic Development and Transition: Thought, Strategy and Viability. He is much sought after as a top economic adviser, both within and beyond China. He has received honorary doctoral degrees from six international universities and is a corresponding fellow of the British Academy. Justin Yifu Lin is China’s best-known economist. No-one is better placed to understand both China’s economy and the economies of Africa, and the relationships between them.

The Rise of China and Geopolitical Tensions in East Asia

17 October 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Yang Rui, Presenter of ‘Dialogue’, CCTV

Convenor(s): Professor Barend Ter Haar and Dr Jenny Chan

Yang Rui is one of China’s best-known television hosts, and his “Dialogue” show on politics and culture is hard-hitting and frequently controversial.  This is a chance to hear a well-known Chinese media figure on some of the most important issues facing Asia and the world today.

Panel: Achieving Workers Rights in the Global Economy

9 October 2014, 12:00 pm

Speaker(s): Jenny Chan (Oxford University), Sanchita Banerjee Saxena (UC Berkeley), Scott Nova (Worker Rights Consortium)


Workers Fight Back in China, Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka Further information can be found on UCSB’s website.

Reflexivity on Chinese Nationalism and Identities Workshop

24 July 2014, 1:30 pm


Convenor(s): Ting Guo

Theme: Reflexivity Scholars have long discussed nations as “imagined communities”, the most universally legitimate value for the collective humanity in our time. At the same time, on a personal level, the right to narrate our own personal or collective identity in a globalised world, demands that we revise our sense of symbolic citizenship, our myths of belonging, by identifying ourselves with the “starting-points” of other national and international histories and geographies. How do individuals understand and relate to the political concepts that define who they are, and how do individuals as scholars reflect on these ways of defining and relating? Taking both theories and individual reflexivities into account, this workshop asks the following question:  As researchers, how do our own experiences of cultural and national identities influence our research and academic viewpoints?

China Today: Long Live the Revolution or a Change in Entropy?

12 June 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Maurizio Marinelli (Sussex)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

Philosophical Meanings of Zhu Xi's Poetry

5 June 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Liu Siyu (Oxford)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

My talk explores the poetry of Zhu Xi (1130-1200), the Song dynasty philosopher and poet whose thought and annotations on classical texts were extensively studied and received as the authoritative teaching for learners to become scholar-officials through imperial examinations over several centuries. Despite the longstanding stereotype that Neo- Confucians despised literary pursuits, Zhu Xi’s attitude towards poetry was in fact ambiguous, contradictory, and complicated. Even though he swore several times to quit writing and denied that he really was a poet, he left more than 1400 poems behind. However, this aspect of Zhu’s career has largely been neglected in modern scholarship.   My analysis of Zhu Xi’s poetry looks into the deep structure, especially the tension between literature and philosophy, and between his inner mind and the outer world in ways that were different from what he taught in his philosophical works. I closely read Zhu Xi’s poetry production according to a division into three stages: the early stage, the mature stage, and the later stage. Although the poetry itself is not considered to be aesthetically outstanding, it is crucial to our understanding of the evolution of Zhu’s philosophical project on the relationship between humans and the natural world. Zhu Xi was not only at the centre of spirited debates between different schools of thought, but he was also confronted with an overwhelmingly influential poetic tradition, drawing on inspirations from the natural world and spontaneous emotions, the logic of which fundamentally conflicted with his philosophical pursuit that aimed to be clearly achievable without abandoning the concrete world.

Religious groups, Varieties of Social Capital, and Contentious Politics in Contemporary Rural China

29 May 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Yu Tao (Oxford)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

Abstract: The rapid religious revival and the widespread collective protests are both among the most significant social phenomena in contemporary China, and they both matter much to the stability and the sustainability of the Chinese politics. The confrontation between religion and the Chinese state frequently appears in western mass media, but the actual relationship between religious groups and collective protests is far more complicated in the world’s most populous country: While some religious groups indeed have become ‘enemies of the state’, many others seem to cooperate well with the atheist and authoritarian regime. To depict a comprehensive and clear picture on this relationship, I conducted a mixed-methods social-scientific enquiry based on both quantitative national survey data and qualitative comparative case studies. My new relational framework argues that, in contemporary rural China, the role played by a religious group in contentious politics has little to do with either the religious faith that it believes or the religious competition that it faces in the local community, but mainly depends on the varieties of social capital that it contains. A religious group contains both bridging and linking social capital when it simultaneously overlaps with the local state and one or more secular social organisations. As a result, it has better chance to serve as a credible negotiation channel between the government and the citizens, and thus allows the citizens to express their demands and grievances through contained rather than transgressive contention. Consequently, even if the religious group may not be necessarily able to directly solve problems, it can efficiently prevent ordinary, everyday conflicts from growing into collective protests.

A Tale of Two Forests - Comparing the Historical Patterns of Deforestation and Conservation in the Brazilian Atlantic and Amazon Forests - 1930-2012

28 May 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Jose Augusto Padua, (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and Rachel Carson Centre in Munich)

Convenor(s): William Beinart

The invention of the New Culture Movement in 1919

22 May 2014, 5:00 pm


Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

The Biggest Challenge in Business Management: Turnaround. Chapter One…

20 May 2014, 2:00 pm

Speaker(s): Jason Chen (陳俊聖) Corporate President & CEO, Acer Inc.

Convenor(s): Dr Ming-Chin Monique Chu

About the speaker: Jason Chen was appointed Acer Corporate President and CEO on 1st January 2014 to take up the important role of leading Acer through its corporate transformation. As a prominent figure in the global IT industry, he has been named one of the “People to Watch in Asia in 2014” by The Wall Street Journal. Before joining Acer, Chen served at TSMC from 2005 as the vice president of TSMC Corporate Development. From 2008 he served as senior vice president of Worldwide Sales and Marketing. From 1991 to 2005 Chen held a 14-year career at Intel holding a variety of sales and marketing positions in growing capacity. He started at Intel as sales executive of Taiwan and later as regional sales manager of Greater China. Chen then progressed to become vice president and general manager of Asia Pacific region before his last assignment as the corporate vice president of Sales and Marketing Group based in the U.S. headquarters. From 1988 to 1991 Chen worked at IBM Taiwan. Chen holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University and an MBA degree from the University of Missouri in the U.S.

Wartime Origins of China’s Propaganda State

15 May 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Matthew Johnson (Grinnell)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

Masterful Reading: Buddhist Directives on the Role of Reading in Self-Cultivation

8 May 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Jennifer Eichman (independent scholar)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

Late Ming Chinese monks made a distinction between reading undertaken merely to broaden one’s knowledge and reading that resulted in the cultivation of the Way. To better understand Buddhist attitudes toward reading, this project takes as its subject matter the advice the monk Zhuhong (1535-1615) gave his disciples on how and what to read. Zhuhong’s promotion of scriptural study and Buddhist exegesis would seem rather straightforward. However, his essays on the topic portray a landscape fraught with tension generated by the sheer volume of disparate Buddhist texts and genres. The first part of this project will address how Zhuhong helped his readers navigate contradictory prescriptions. The second half sheds light on the skills Zhuhong argued his disciples needed to read Chan discourse records. Competent reading of Chan texts presented a unique challenge. Zhuhong argued against the literal reading of discourse records in favor of a more imaginative approach that required the reader to envision these texts as the inspired footprint left by awakened Chan masters. By exploring Buddhist reading practices, this project contributes to our understanding of the early seventeenth-century challenges to religious literacy elite lay practitioners encountered in their desire to master the tradition.

The Internationalization of the RMB: Current Development and Its Future Challenges

8 May 2014, 4:00 pm

Speaker(s): Mr Xianhong Deng, Executive Governor of State Administration of Foreign Exchange of China (SAFE)


Journal of Chinese Economic and Business Studies Technology & Management Centre for Development, Dept. of International Development, Oxford University Economics and Finance Department, Brunel University Inviting you for participating in an exciting seminar given by a distinguished speaker directly involved in managing USD 3 trillions of China’s foreign exchange reserves. Discussant: Dr ZhiChao Zhang, School of Business Durham University All Welcome

The Classic of Documents and the Origins of Chinese Political Philosophy: An Oxford-Princeton Research Collaboration

21 March 2014, 9:00 am


Convenor(s): Dirk Meyer Dirk Meyer (Oxford) Martin Kern (Princeton)

As part of the Oxford-Princeton research partnership on the Classic of Documents, there will be a conference at the Queen's College, University of Oxford (21-22 March 2014). This meeting is the second of a series of conferences devoted to the study of the Shangshu. With this partnership, we propose a new approach to one of the core texts of the classical Chinese philosophical, historical, and political tradition that dates from the first millennium BCE, with its early parts likely to come from the 10th century BCE. While current Chinese political discourse—including some of the leading voices in politics and international relations—is replete with references to the political and philosophical discourse of Chinese antiquity, the focus remains on Confucius (551-479 BCE) and the political thinkers that followed him over the next three centuries. However, the one text that consistently served as a reference to  these thinkers, the Shangshu containing a series of royal speeches attributed to the emperors of high antiquity, remains woefully understudied. Within the Chinese tradition, these speeches are central as the earliest formulations of the concept of kingship and the “Mandate of Heaven”; they emphasize the common people as the source of their ruler’s legitimation, they discourse on just war and legitimate regicide, and they debate issues of loyalty and dynastic succession and consider the terms of interstate relations. Yet to this day, there is no systematic study in any European language on these speeches. In this situation, we wish to develop a deep and interdisciplinary study of the origin and early development of Chinese political philosophy. Our long-term questions are: how can we contextualize the royal speeches in their original political and cultural environment, in particular in relation to the thousands of bronze inscriptions, dating from the 13th century BCE onward, that have been excavated in recent years? What are the origins of the Chinese political idiom that intellectuals today—in relation to China’s current political rise—find meaningful and unproblematic to appropriate? How is imperial rule (now easily mapped onto one-party rule) legitimized? Who are the agents of both power and change in this system? What is the public arena of political discourse in high antiquity, as it can now be revisited through the full use of epigraphic evidence that had been buried for three millennia? How can we compare the Chinese origins of kingship—and indeed imperial rule—with those of other ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Mesopotamia, and later Rome? What does the case of ancient China contribute to the nascent field of “Empire Studies,” and why does it matter today as a point of reference in current Chinese political discourse? These are just some of the questions we need to address, and that strike us as rather urgent. Moreover, Qinghua University—one of China’s top three universities—has just acquired a large cache of bamboo manuscripts dating from circa 300 BCE that contain significant overlap with parts of the Shangshu and related texts. These previously unknown manuscripts had been looted from an ancient tomb and were then offered on the Hong Kong antiquity market. Their discovery and initial publication has already triggered hundreds of studies in China, revealing the extraordinary importance modern Chinese scholars accord to them. While current Chinese scholarship is shaping the ways in which the Shangshu texts provide today’s political discourse with inspiration and legitimation from (an however idealized) antiquity, scholars in North America and Europe have only just begun to study these writings. Thus, from the dual yet intimately connected perspectives of “China today” and the newly visible “China in antiquity,” we believe now is the time to develop an interdisciplinary research agenda focused on the ancient classic in its own context, and by this laying the groundwork for further study of its current ramifications. *** The Shangshu has long been looked at as a source of history, political thought, religion, mythology, or archaic language. Yet, after centuries of Chinese scholarship, the Shangshu—or even any subset of chapters such as the early speeches vs. the later cosmological accounts—still lacks comprehensive analysis in terms of political philosophy, ideology, and rhetoric. Such an analysis may involve three perspectives: as a contribution to the study of early China, as a contribution to the comparative study of ancient kingship, and as an intervention into the current appropriation of ancient Chinese political thought for contemporary purposes (e.g., in the work of Yan Xuetong, Jiang Qing, Daniel Bell, and others). While mostly devoted to the first and second perspectives, we also believe that scholars of early China should not leave the interpretation of ancient texts to political scientists who more often than not are driven by their own agenda rather than genuine interests in early China proper. With our project, we are less concerned with questions of textual history or philology per se, or with using the Shangshu as a source text for Zhou history. Instead, we ask: what are the political and ethical values espoused in the Shangshu, and how are they expressed rhetorically? What are the patterns of oratory and rhetoric in the representation of archaic kingship? Can we advance new linguistic, literary, historical, and philological approaches to such oratory and rhetoric? Can we historicize key philosophical issues such as the Mandate of Heaven, the succession of power, or the relation between ruler and populace in political, religious, and mythological terms? Can we contextualize the early royal speeches in their own political and cultural environment? How do they relate to bronze inscriptions and the Shijing, and what is their common public arena? Furthermore, how are the political ideals of the early Shangshu chapters interpreted, transformed, and employed in Warring States and early imperial thought and political practice? And finally, can we compare Chinese origins of kingship—and indeed imperial rule—with those of other ancient civilizations? What does the case of early China contribute to a comparative endeavor, and how can the latter help us understand ancient Chinese political thought? The multidisciplinary complexity of such questions—and of a host of others that extend from them—calls for a collaborative effort. The principal format of this effort will be several workshops and conferences, supported by specific research tasks that involve not only established scholars but also graduate students. For the beginning, we focus directly on the Shangshu; at later steps, we intend to invite a select group of scholars from other fields with whom we can then discuss comparative perspectives. Our ultimate goal is to publish a new body of collaborative scholarship on the Shangshu in its manifold dimensions. Our first conference was held in May 17-18, 2013, at Princeton. For this meeting, each participant chose one particular Shangshu chapter for close analysis in terms of political thought and rhetoric. As very few such studies of entire chapters exist, our first conference built a more solid basis for all further discussions and analyses of larger issues at subsequent meetings. For our second second conference, March 21-22, 2014, at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford, we ask each participant to develop their Princeton paper into a fully developed study. While the Princeton workshop looked at individual chapters in isolation, the idea is that the Oxford workshop takes a more inclusive focus. The Oxford papers should be circulated circa two weeks before the conference.

How East Asians Understand Democracy

14 March 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Yun-han Chu (National Taiwan University & Academia Sinica)

Convenor(s): Dr Ming-chin Monique Chu

Abstract: I try to resolve the anomaly that in East Asia the diffuse regime support for third-wave democracies are much lower than that of non-democratic regimes. Based on Asian Barometer Survey, I offer three possible explanations – conception of democracy, regime performance, and competing national priorities – and present preliminary empirical evidences to substantiate these explanatory claims. Our empirical data also suggest that East Asians support democracy overwhelming only as an ideal, but not democracy in practice. There exists a big gap between the promises and the realities of democracy in the eyes of the citizens. About the speaker: Yun-han Chu is is Distinguished Research Fellow of Institute of Political Science at Academia Sinica and Professor of Political Science at National Taiwan University. He serves concurrently as president of Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange. Professor Chu received his Ph. D. in political science from the University of Minnesota and joined the faculty of National Taiwan University in 1987. He was a visiting associate professor at Columbia University in 1990-1991. He served as Director of Programs of the Institute for National Policy Research, Taiwan’s leading independent think tank, from 1989 to 1999. Professor Chu specializes in politics of Greater China, East Asian political economy and democratization. He has been the Coordinator of Asian Barometer Survey, a regional network of survey on democracy, governance and development covering more than seventeen Asian countries. Prof. Chu was former president of Chinese Association of Political Science (Taipei) in 2002-2004, a member of the International Council of the Asia Society between 2001 and 2007, and a member of the Council of American Political Science Association (2009-2011). He was recently elected an Academician of Academia Sinica, the country’s highest academic honor, in July 2012. He currently serves on the editorial board of Journal of Democracy, China Review, Journal of Contemporary China, International Studies Perspectives, and Journal of East Asian Studies. He is the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of fifteen books. Among his recent English publications are How East Asians View Democracy (Columbia University Press, 2008), Citizens, Elections and Parties in East Asia (Lynne Reinner, 2008), Dynamics of Local Governance in China During the Reform Era (Rowman & Littlefield Pub Inc, 2010), and Democracy in East Asia: A New Century (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

Local Power and Central Control: Princes' Crimes in the mid-Ming

13 March 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Jérôme Kerlouégan

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

The Advance of the State in China

6 March 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Sarah Eaton (Oxford)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

Book Launch: The East Asian Computer Chip War (with a wine reception)

3 March 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Ming-chin Monique Chu, Discussant: Dr Eric Thun (Brasenose College, Oxford), Chair: Dr Faisal Devji (St Antony’s, Oxford)

Convenor(s): Dr Ming-chin Monique Chu

Abstract: In this book launch, the author will highlight the impact of semiconductor production globalization on U.S.-China-Taiwan security relations. Described by Prof. Peter Nolan as “path-breaking,” the monograph deepens our understanding of the globalization-security nexus by transcending disciplinary boundaries between the history of science and technology, international political economy and security studies. The event will be chaired by Dr. Faisal Devji. Dr. Eric Thun will act as a discussant. Peter Sowden, editor of Asian Studies series at Routledge, will make a brief introduction.     About the speakers: Ming-chin Monique Chu is a research fellow at St Antony's College and a postdoctoral research officer in Taiwan Studies, School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies, at the University of Oxford. She received her MPhil and Ph.D. in international relations from the University of Cambridge. Her research interests include the impact of globalization on security, media in international relations, China’s sovereignty challenges, and cross-Strait relations. She is author of The East Asian Computer Chip War (Routledge, 2013) and co-editor of Globalization and Security Relations across the Taiwan Strait (with Scott L. Kastner and forthcoming with Routledge in 2014). Faisal Devji is University Reader in Modern South Asian History and the Director of Asian Studies Centre at St Antony’s College. He is the author of four books including The Terrorist in Search of Humanity: Militant Islam and Global Politics (2009), and Muslim Zion: Pakistan as a Political Idea (2013). His broader concerns have to do with ethics and violence in a globalized world. Eric Thun is the Peter Moores University Lecturer in Chinese Business at Saїd Business School and a Fellow of Brasenose College. His primary areas of expertise are business in China and international business. He is author of Changing Lanes in China: Foreign Direct Investment, Local Governments and Auto Sector Development (2006). Peter Sowden is the editor of Routledge Asian Studies series.

The Most Sensitive Issue: The United States, China, and Taiwan

28 February 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr. Richard C. Bush III (Brookings Institution)

Convenor(s): Dr Ming-chin Monique Chu

Abstract: Taiwan has been at the center of U.S. relations with the People’s Republic of China since 1950, if only because the PRC has placed it there. This triangular relationship has evolved considerably over the last six-plus decades, most significantly after Taiwan became a vibrant democracy. But it has remained a challenge for successive administrations, which seek to balance a desire for good relations with China, respect for Taiwan’s democracy, and the interest in peace and security in East Asia. Richard Bush, who served in the U.S. government for two decades and is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, will address this array of issues.   About the speaker: Richard Bush is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Director of its Center for East Asia Policy Studies (formerly the Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies), and holder of the Chen-Fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies. Richard Bush came to Brookings in July 2002, after serving almost five years as the Chairman and Managing Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, the mechanism through which the United States Government conducts substantive relations with Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic relations. Richard Bush began his professional career in 1977 with the China Council of The Asia Society. From July 1983 to June 1995, he worked on the staff of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, first on the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs (chair, Steve Solarz), and then the full committee (chair, Lee Hamilton). In July 1995, he became National Intelligence Officer for East Asia and a member of the National Intelligence Council, which coordinates the analytic work of the intelligence committee. He left the NIC in September 1997 to become head of AIT. Richard Bush received his undergraduate education at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. He did his graduate work in political science at Columbia University, getting an M.A. in 1973 and his Ph.D. in 1978. He is the author of a number of articles on U.S. relations with China and Taiwan, and of At Cross Purposes, a book of essays on the history of America’s relations with Taiwan (M. E. Sharpe, 2004). In July 2005, Brookings published Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait. In March 2007, through Wylie Publishers, Richard Bush and his Brookings colleague Michael O’Hanlon released A War Like No Other: The Truth About China’s Challenge to America. In 2010, Brookings published his Perils of Proximity: China-Japan Security Relations, which focused on growing tensions in the East China Sea. In January 2013, Brookings published his Uncharted Strait: The Future of China-Taiwan Relations. He is now working on a book on the political and economic future of Hong Kong.

The Great Money Divergence: European and Chinese Coinage before the Age of Steam

27 February 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Niv Horesh (University of Nottingham)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

Political reforms under Xi Jinping: breaking new ground or sticking to consultative Leninism?

20 February 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Steve Tsang (Nottingham)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

Coercion or spontaneity? Ideal government according to the Laozi and Hanfeizi

13 February 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dušan Vavrá (Masaryk University)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

The main focus of this paper is the well known (but often downplayed) question of affinity between the Laozi and Hanfeizi. Both these texts claim that the ideal government is a state of harmony when all individuals spontaneously (without coercion) follow a pre-established order (either natural one, or set by the ruler). However, coercion is equally part of the picture – notoriously in the Hanfeizi, more questionably in the Laozi (the idea of „making people ignorant“). The expressions „doing nothing“ (wúwéi) and „being so of itself“ (zìrán) are used in both texts. The paper argues that both the Laozi and Hanfeizi use these terms in basically similar manner. A notion of human nature’s response to incentives is introduced and interpreted as the crucial tool of governance, leading to the “zìrán“ ideal – the ruler can just “do nothing” and everything is still in perfect order. The paper demonstrates that both texts’ concept of ideal government is based on making people „spontaneously“ follow certain principles. Coercion (or hidden manipulation) and spontaneity are two facets of the ideal government in both cases. Finally, the paper argues that although the interplay between coercion and spontaneity may seem paradoxical, it can be put into broader context of how effective action is concieved of in some early Chinese texts. Passages from more texts are introduced (Zhuangzi, Mengzi, Xunzi) to show how spontaneous functioning (individual, social, or cosmological) is reached by first establishing principles to be followed.

Rethinking Maoist Modernism: an anthropological gaze of socialist life in a Beijing old-town neighbourhood

6 February 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Luo Jialing (Oxford)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

A Relationship Transformed? The prospects for conflict and peace in the Taiwan Strait

31 January 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr. Scott L. Kastner (University of Maryland)

Convenor(s): Dr Ming-chin Monique Chu

Abstract: After long being viewed as potential flashpoint, relations across the Taiwan Strait have stabilized tremendously in recent years, reflecting moderation in the approaches both Beijing and Taipei have taken with regard to the cross-Strait sovereignty dispute.  In my presentation, I consider whether this new-found stability in the Taiwan Strait is likely to persist.  In particular, I consider how fundamental trends in cross-Strait relations—such as rapidly growing Chinese military power and deepening cross-Strait economic exchange—are affecting the likelihood that the conflict scenarios which worried analysts prior to the current détente will re-emerge as future concerns.  My analysis suggests that the relationship across the Taiwan Strait is likely to be more stable in the years ahead than was the case in the years preceding 2008; this conclusion holds even if there is a change in ruling party in Taiwan.  But I also emphasize that the cross-Strait relationship has not been fundamentally transformed, and that the potential for serious conflict remains.   About the speaker: Scott L. Kastner is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland, College Park.  Kastner’s research interests include China’s foreign relations, the international politics of East Asia, and international political economy.  His book, Political Conflict and Economic Interdependence across the Taiwan Strait and Beyond, was published in the Studies in Asian Security series by Stanford University Press (2009).  His work has also appeared in journals such as International Security, Journal of Conflict Resolution, International Studies Quarterly, Comparative Political Studies, Security Studies, and Journal of Peace Research.  Kastner received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego.

Bamboo and the Production of Philosophy: A Hypothesis About a shift in Writing and Thought in Early China

30 January 2014, 6:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dirk Meyer (University of Oxford)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

The Ascendancy of Xi Jinping: Uniting the Tribes of Chinese Communism

23 January 2014, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): John Garnaut (Fairfax Media)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

Abstract: I will draw on official biographies, personal memoirs and interviews with elite families to trace two different traditions in Chinese communism that have been drawn together under the presidency of Xi Jinping. The first tradition is that of the "red" rural guerrilla base areas, exemplified by Xi's father, and the other is that of the "white" urban underground, personified by the father of Bo Xilai.

Xi Jinping: His First Year as Party Secretary 习近平治党一年评估

22 January 2014, 2:00 pm

Speaker(s): Deng Yuwen, Independent Writer, Former Deputy Editor of Study Times, newspaper of the Central Party School

Convenor(s): Dr Anthony Garnaut

While there is much confusion about the meaning and significance of many the public statements and policy documents underwritten by Xi Jinping during his first year in office, one point is clear: Xi has been more successful at consolidating his authority within the Chinese Communist Party than any of his predecessors as General Secretary over the past generation. Deng Yuwen, a long time insider on Party affairs turned independent writer and observer, will discuss how Xi has gone about the task of managing the world’s biggest political organisation.  *Please note that Deng Yuwen’s opening remarks and comments will be given in Chinese, and only a summary translation of key points will be provided。

A Roundtable Discussion on Islamic Reformism in China

14 January 2014, 10:30 am

Speaker(s): Leila Chérif-Chebbi and Wlodzimierz Cieciura

Convenor(s): Anthony Garnaut, Kevin Fogg

‘Salafisms in China’ Leila Chérif-Chebbi Looking back on my interaction with Chinese Muslim scholars and activists over the past 25 years, what strikes me about Chinese Islam is not its Chinese aspects or ‘ syncretist’ aspects but, conversely, the constant searching for and maintaining of orthodoxy and orthopraxy. This comes mixed with feelings of having being isolated from the core of the Muslim world, and therefore having a corrupted Islam. Explaining Islam, reforming Islam and finding inspiration and knowledge from Muslim countries abroad has been a constant preoccupation of the Chinese ‘ulama. My own work has focused on the modern history of fundamentalist reformisms. I intend ‘fundamentalist’ in its literal meaning, a return to the texts of the Qur'an and the Sunna and the exemplary way of the Prophet and his Companions. Many Salafisms have emerged in China at different times, sometimes happily coexisting with one another, sometimes contending, sometimes merging. The question animating each has been the same: how to adapt the fundamentalist reformism to a Chinese reality, with a non-Muslim state and dominant culture, without corrupting its message.   ‘The internationalisation of Chinese Islam in early 20th century’ Wlodzimierz Cieciura Islam in China has never been separated from developments in other parts of the Muslim world. Regular contact was maintained by peregrinating religious scholars and pilgrims, who brought new ideas and interpretations of the Islamic tenets. The Middle East and Central Asia were the two most obvious sources of such innovations. However, with the great changes that took place in Eurasia in late 19th and early 20th centuries, contacts with Muslims and non-Muslims in other countries were established too. The appearance of foreign, non-Middle Eastern Muslims and political operators at China’s doorsteps had an important impact on the Chinese Muslim community and the efforts of its elites to modernize and revitalise religious practice. I will discuss the less obvious sources of modern Chinese Muslim tradition, focusing on the activities of Sino-Muslim students in Japan and of Japanese political operators, the undertakings of Tatar intellectuals from Russia and the possible Jadidist influence on religious education in the late Qing to early Republican period.

Letters and Lettered Men: A Look at Elite Communication and Letter Writing among Song Dynasty Officials

28 November 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Lik Hang Tsui (University of Oxford)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

The Taiwan-US-China Technology Triangle: The End of an Era?

27 November 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Douglas Fuller (Zhejiang University)

Convenor(s): Dr Ming-chin Monique Chu

Abstract: As a new edited volume, Technology Transfer between the US, China and Taiwan (Routledge, 2013), demonstrates, significant technology links between the US and Greater China go back to prior to the Second World War. In recent decades the technology increasingly has flowed east as well as west across the Taiwan Strait and the Pacific to create a veritable technology triangle between Taiwan, the US and China. While Taiwan, China and the US have all benefitted from this phenomenon, the institutional arrangements that support this technology triangle are under stress. This lecture seeks to outline the challenges emanating from within each economy as well as technology shifts that threaten to end this Pacific belle époque. About the speaker: Douglas B. Fuller is a Professor at the School of Management of Zhejiang University. He has previously taught at King’s College London, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and the School of International Service at American University. His research focuses on technology policy in developing Asia and the political economy of Greater China. In addition to co- editing Technology Transfer between the US, China and Taiwan with Murray Rubinstein, he has published articles in Asia-Pacific Journal of Management, Journal of Development Studies, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, and other journals.

Rethinking the historiography of the PRC

27 November 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Klaus Muelhahn (Free University of Berlin)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

Pillars of Fat: The corporeal aesthetics of wenming in Contemporary Art

21 November 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Ros Holmes (University of Oxford)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

Imperial Dissolution and Colonial Crimes: Taiwan and the Postwar Dilemma of Japanese War Crimes

15 November 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Barak Kushner (Corpus Christi College, Cambridge)

Convenor(s): Dr Ming-chin Monique Chu

Abstract: The domestic history of Taiwan has been well documented, especially since the establishment of a democratic regime in the mid 1990s and the fall of the KMT from monopolizing state power. However, the interaction of Taiwan on the international stage, especially in relation to the postwar fate as it relates to Japanese war crimes is less well examined. My aim in this presentation is to outline the connections of Taiwan to the region, particularly focusing on how it was affected by the sudden occlusion of the Japanese empire and the pursuit of BC class war crimes in China. About the speaker: Barak Kushner teaches modern Japanese history at the University of Cambridge and has a PhD in History from Princeton University. He was recently awarded a 2012-2013 British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship which he used to complete his third book on the postwar adjudication of Japanese war crimes in China, entitled "Men to Devils and Devils to Men": Japanese War Crimes and Cold War Sino-Japan Relations (1945-1965) (forthcoming from Harvard University Press, 2014). He has just launched a 5-year European Research Council funded project: “The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East Asia, 1945–1965.” This 5-year grant will examine the impact of the fall of the Japanese empire in East Asia. Kushner’s second book, Slurp! A culinary and social history of ramen - Japan's favorite noodle soup (Brill, 2012), analyzed food and history within Sino-Japan relations. (A Japanese translation is forthcoming from Akashi Shoten publishers). Kushner's work on the history of ramen was awarded the 2013 Sophie Coe Prize for Food History, the longest-running and most generous prize for writing in food history in the English language. The Thought War - Japanese Imperial Propaganda (Hawaii 2006), Kushner's first book, delved into the history of wartime Japanese propaganda. (A Japanese translation is forthcoming from Akashi Shorten). Kushner's academic articles have appeared in Past and Present, Journal of Contemporary History, Diplomatic History, The International History Review, Japanese Studies, Journal of Popular Culture, and the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television. He has published book chapters in edited volumes dealing with: a postwar media history of Godzilla, kamishibai and children's wartime propaganda in Japan, the Chinese influence on Taisho notions of modern cuisine in Japan, Japan's 1940 Olympic plans, the image of Japan in Chinese humor, and other topics.

The China Factor in Taiwanese Politics

8 November 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Emerson Niou (Duke University)

Convenor(s): Dr Ming-chin Monique Chu

Abstract: In my talk I will use survey data to study the main views in Taiwan on how Taiwan should approach and engage with China, and draw policy implications for China and Taiwan. About the speaker: EMERSON M.S. NIOU (Ph.D., U. of Texas at Austin, 1987) is Professor of Political Science at Duke University. He is the co-author of The Balance of Power, Cambridge University Press, 1989. His recent publications include: “A Theory of Economic Sanctions and Issue Linkage,” with Dean Lacy, Journal of Politics, 2004; “Term Limits as a Response to Incumbency Advantage,” with Kongpin Chen, Journal of Politics, May 2005; “External Threat and Collective Action,” with Guofu Tan, Economic Inquiry, 2005; “Economic Interdependence and Peace: A Game-Theoretic Analysis,” Journal of East Asian Studies, 2007; “Strategic Voting in Plurality Elections,” with Daniel Kselman, Political Analysis, 2010. His current projects include studies of institutions and governance, theories of voting, and politics of alliance formation.

Law, ideology, fear, uncertainty and doubt: Deciphering China's constitutional debate

7 November 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Rogier Creemers (University of Oxford)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

Identity and International Security: U.S. Relations with China and India

6 November 2013, 1:00 pm

Speaker(s): Jarrod Hayes (Assistant Professor of International Relations, Georgia Institute of Technology)


Taiwanisation and the Foreign Policy of Counter Secession: Preventing the Legitimisation of Contested States

1 November 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr James Ker-Lindsay (LSE)

Convenor(s): Dr Ming-chin Monique Chu

Abstract: Traditionally, countries engaged in secessionist disputes have concentrated their efforts on preventing breakaway territories from being granted formal recognition by third party states. However, while the prevention of recognition remains the key goal, attention is increasingly turning also to efforts to prevent the legitimisation of contested states; a process that is often, though somewhat inaccurately, referred to in the literature as Taiwanisation. Such legitimisation encompasses a range of activities, including engagement by states, membership of international and regional organisations and participation in international economic, cultural and sporting activities. Drawing on the examples of Kosovo, Northern Cyprus, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, this talk will explore what sort of role the prevention of legitimisation now plays in wider counter recognition strategies. About the speaker: James Ker-Lindsay is Eurobank Senior Research Fellow on the Politics of South East Europe at the European Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science. His research focus is on conflict management, peace processes, secession and recognition. His books include, Kosovo: The Path to Contested Statehood in the Balkans (I.B.Tauris, 2009), The Cyprus Problem: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2011), and The Foreign Policy of Counter Secession: Preventing the Recognition of Contested States (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Transcultural lyricism: Translation and intertextuality in Su Manshu's fiction

31 October 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Liu Qian (University of Oxford)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

The work songs of the boatman of Sichuan (1880s-1930s): A social and cultural history

24 October 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Igor Chabrowski (University of Oxford)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

Paul Morand, the Chinese "New-Sensationists" and pictorial magazines

17 October 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Paul Bevan (University of Oxford)

Convenor(s): Professor Barend ter Haar and Dr Anthony Garnaut

The impact of the short-stories of the French writer Paul Morand (1888-1976) on the writing of the Chinese New-sensationists has been touched on by several writers including Leo Ou-fan Lee, Shu-mei Shih and Peng Hsiao-yen. Useful as these studies have been for basic information concerning Morand’s popularity amongst the New-sensationists school of writers, there is still much left unsaid about the extent of his reputation in China. The paper will show that Morand’s writings in the American magazine Vanity Fair were particularly influential on certain groups of intellectuals in China and how, as examples of writings by a “major” modernist writer, the appearance of these writings in this magazine may have gone some way to legitimising the pictorial magazine as a vehicle for the work of Chinese writers, artists and publishers. The paper also examines the reception of Morand’s work in East Asia with regard to the translations of his writings into the Chinese language to show that, of the writers in Shanghai, it was not just those commonly associated with the New-sensationists who were inspired by Morand’s work and that translations of his work appeared alongside the writings of the New-sensationists and other Francophile literary groups within the medium of Chinese pictorial and literary magazines.

Journalists and Journalism in Early Twentieth-Century China

13 June 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Tim Weston (University of Colorado)


China's Coal Safety Record: Why was it so bad and why has it improved so much?

6 June 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Tim Wright (University of Sheffield)


Bodley’s “Special” Chinese Collections – What are they good for?

30 May 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): David Helliwell (University of Oxford)


The Violence of Urban Development in Contemporary China

23 May 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Shao Qin (College of New Jersey)


What (not) to Wear during a Cultural Revolution: Film, Fashion, and Agency in China

2 May 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Chris Berry (Kings College London)


The ethnic struggle over the identity of the Loess Plateau, 1862-1962

25 April 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Anthony Garnaut (University of Oxford)


In the hundred years from the middle of the nineteenth century and the early 1960s, the Qing empire collapsed and three relatively stable nation-states emerged in its place. This process of historical change has been described in terms of a transition from multi-ethnic empire to nation-state, resembling in certain respects the historical processes that brought into being the modern Russian, Turkish or English nations. The Loess Plateau, the region straddling the upper reaches of the Yellow River, holds a prominent place in Han Chinese national culture as the cradle of both ancient Chinese agrarian civilisation and of the Chinese Communist state. The same region has also been described by the novelist and essayist Zhang Chengzhi as the cradle of a specifically Muslim modern culture.  In the hundred years after the Qing state threw its weight behind the promotion of a Chinese national modernity in 1862, there have been many points of conflict between Han Chinese and Chinese Muslim efforts to define this region as a national homeland. I argue here that Han Chinese national culture emerged under the patronage of the Qing state and its architects had the specific aim of encouraging the rural population on the northern borders of the Taiping kingdom to identify with the government of Beijing, rather than that of Nanjing. While effective for a time in calming the rebellious urges of the Hunan and Anhui peasantry, the promotion of the same Han Chinese national practices had a very different effect in the Inner Asian borderlands of the Qing empire.

The Nationality Regional Autonomy System and Its Securitization: On the Chinese Regime of 'Mutual Deprivation’

7 March 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Uradyn Bulag (University of Cambridge)


Institute for Chinese Studies and Contemporary China Studies Programme Seminar Series

The 18th Annual D.F. McKenzie Lecture: ‘The sort of artist I am’

28 February 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Xu Bing


Institute for Chinese Studies and Contemporary China Studies Programme Seminar Series

China's Quest for Energy Security

21 February 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Isabel Hilton (


Institute for Chinese Studies and Contemporary China Studies Programme Seminar Series

Internationalization of Chinese Multinationals: Competence and Impact - China Economy Seminar Series

20 February 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Huaichuan Rui, Royal Holloway, University of London

Convenor(s): Dr Jan Knoerich

Asian Studies Centre seminar - China’s Vision of World Order

19 February 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Dr Thomas Fingar (Stanford University)

Convenor(s): Professor Rosemary Foot and Dr Faisal Devji

Dr. Thomas Fingar is the inaugural Oksenberg-Rohlen Distinguished Fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. He was the Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford during January-December 2009.  From May 2005 through December 2008, he served as the first Deputy Director of National Intelligence for Analysis and, concurrently, as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Dr. Fingar served previously as Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (2001-2003), Deputy Assistant Secretary for Analysis (1994-2000), Director of the Office of Analysis for East Asia and the Pacific (1989-1994), and Chief of the China Division (1986-1989). Between 1975 and 1986 he held a number of positions at Stanford University, including Senior Research Associate in the Center for International Security and Arms Control. Dr. Fingar is a graduate of Cornell University (A.B. in Government and History, 1968), and Stanford University (M.A., 1969 and Ph.D., 1977 both in Political Science).  His most recent book is Reducing Uncertainty:  Intelligence Analysis and National Security (2011). Abstract If China had an opportunity to refashion the global order, what would it change and what would it seek to accomplish? The PRC has benefitted enormously from participation in the liberal international order but dislikes certain features and will have an important voice in deciding what to retain, replace, or reengineer in the overdue effort to update arrangements made inadequate by their success.  Fingar’s talk will examine systemic, historic, and situational factors likely to shape China’s objectives and expectations with respect to a post-American world. All are welcome Enquiries:     e-mail: or tel: 01865-274559

Household Sovereignty and Religious Subjectification: China and the Christian West Compared

19 February 2013, 5:00 pm


Convenor(s): Dr Adam Yuet Chau (Cambridge)

Migrant Policy, Care Regimes, and Nationhood: East Asia and North America in a Comparative Perspective

18 February 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Professor Ito Peng, University of Toronto

Convenor(s): Dr. Reza Hasmath

Abstract: If a “migrant in the family” is the prevalent pattern of care work in Mediterranean societies today, what are the emergent patterns in other familialistic societies, and what are the factors driving or impeding them? This talk address these questions by examining the cases of East Asia and North America. The analysis suggests that while care work patterns resemble those of the Mediterranean countries in their increased use of migrant care workers, they also differ from the Mediterranean, partly because of their varying conceptualizations of nationhood. The talk will argue that concepts of nationhood are significant, but not all-determining in efforts to reconcile care work and migration regimes. Biography: Ito Peng (PhD, LSE) is an Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary and International Affairs, and a Professor of Sociology and Public Policy in the Faculty of Arts and Science, University of Toronto. She teaches political sociology, comparative welfare states, and public policy, focusing especially on East Asia, Europe, and North American comparisons. Her articles have appeared in Politics and Society, Social Politics, International Labor Review, Social Policy and Administration, Development & Change, Journal of East Asian Studies, amongst others. Her current research includes: (1) a comparison of social investment policies in Canada, Australia, Japan, and South Korea; (2) an international collaborative research project on demography, gender, and care migration; and, (3) a comparison of labour market dualization in Europe and East Asia. Prof. Peng is an associate researcher for United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. For further information on this talk, please contact Dr. Reza Hasmath,

Courting Constitutionality in Modern China: Constitutional Rights and Indirect Effect in Lower Court Judgments

14 February 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Ernest Caldwell (SOAS, University of London)


Institute for Chinese Studies and Contemporary China Studies Programme Seminar Series

From University to Work: How Chinese University Graduates' First Job Salaries are Determined - China Economy Studies Programme

13 February 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Suyu Liu, Department of Sociology

Convenor(s): Dr Jan Knoerich

Hosting Gods, Ghosts and Ancestors: A Chinese Theory of Ritual Action

12 February 2013, 5:00 pm


Convenor(s): Dr Adam Yuet Chau (Cambridge)

Internationalisation and Innovation by Chinese Multinational Companies

7 February 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Victor Zhang, CEO, Huawei Technologies (UK)

Convenor(s): Prof Xiaolan Fu, Director of the Technology & Management for Development Centre

How does China Power its Economy for Growth – Electricity Industry and Pricing in China - China Economy Seminar Series

6 February 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Guy Liu, Brunel University

Convenor(s): Dr Jan Knoerich

Workshop on Manuscript and Text Culture at Queen's (WMTC)

30 January 2013, 6:00 pm

Speaker(s): Martin Kern, Princeton University; Astor Visiting Fellow


Paper: The "Jinteng" Chapter of the Shangshu and its Newly Discovered Manuscript Version from ca. 300 BCE: Comparison and Methodological Considerations Among the exciting new bamboo and silk manuscript finds from early China are texts that have counterparts in the received literature and thus reveal new insights into the formation of the ancient textual tradition. One such text, recently published by Qinghua University, parallels the “Metal-bound Coffer” (Jinteng) chapter of the Hallowed Documents (Shangshu), the preeminent canon of ancient Chinese political thought. In comparing the newly found—albeit unprovenanced—manuscript from ca. 300 BCE with its received counterpart as well as with other parallels in the textual tradition, the lecture analyzes significant textual differences and their implications for both the original context of the manuscript and the editorial processes that have given us the received text. This analysis further leads to the methodological considerations that must be brought to the study of early Chinese manuscripts in general. If you are interested in attending, please email:

Constructing a Ladder for Growth: Policy, Markets & Industrial Upgrading in China - China Economy Seminar Series

30 January 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Eric Thun, Said Business School

Convenor(s): Dr Jan Knoerich

The Driving Force of Privatisation in China (1995-2008) - China Economy Seminar Series

23 January 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Charles Chen, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

Convenor(s): Dr Jan Knoerich

CCSP Seminar - China’s environmental movement: a journalist’s view

17 January 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Liu Jianqiang

Convenor(s): Sam Geall, University of Oxford

Liu Jianqiang will speak about China’s environmental movement and reflect on his extensive reporting of grassroots campaigns, particularly those against controversial large hydropower projects in the country’s southwest. Liu is China editor of bilingual website chinadialogue and formerly a senior investigative reporter with Southern Weekly, one of China’s most influential newspapers. He won the “Award for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment” from the Society of Publishers in Asia in 2008, and the prestigious “Green Expert” award at the TNC-SEE Awards in 2011.

China as a Developmental State - China Economy Seminar Series

16 January 2013, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): John Knight, St Edmund Hall

Convenor(s): Dr Jan Knoerich


What Kind of Welfare State is Emerging in China?

29 November 2012, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Stein Ringen (University of Oxford)

Convenor(s): ICS & CCSSS

Liu Xiaobo on Contemporary China

23 November 2012, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Perry Link (University of California at Riverside)

Convenor(s): ICS & CCSSS

An Anatomy of Chinese: Rhythm, Metaphor, Politics

23 November 2012, 1:00 pm

Speaker(s): Perry Link (University of California at Riverside)

Convenor(s): ICS & CCSSS

Cross-Cultural learning as Political, Not Only Epistemological: Chinese Arguments for "Changing Referents" (Bian fa), 1860-1930

1 November 2012, 5:00 pm

Speaker(s): Leigh Jenco (LSE)

Convenor(s): Institute for Chinese Studies & Contemporary China Studies Seminar Series

The Future of Interdisciplinary Area Studies in the UK: Developing Research and Research Training

6 December 2005, 9:00 am


Convenor(s): Roger Goodman

Workshop held in Oxford in December 2005 sponsored by the ESRC and AHRC and organized by the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies.