A language under attack (6)

Thanks. I don’t hate Germany, or the German language, nor China or the Chinese language. Or any language.

I understand your reaction, and would like you to hear me out on this. I made a comparison which I think is very much valid: If your country organizes mass oppression on the scale of what the Chinese regime is doing now, a Hitlerian scale, it will, unfortunately and unavoidably, make a deep stain on its reputation which it will take a very long time to remove.

The Nazis did this to Rilke’s German, and the current Chinese regime is doing this to Lu Xun’s Chinese. There are other examples, of course (don’t expect a Saami person to love Swedish literature), but the Nazi comparison is apt.

As you know, the Chinese regime is carrying out a massive genocidal campaign to destroy indigenous identities, including by prohibiting native languages, and imposing Chinese at the point of a gun. Continue reading

A language under attack (2,3,4,5)

That sounds like a very unfair judgment; why taking Magnus’ remarks so personally? This is an academic platform where we at the very least should expect some respectful manners. “I do not like his articles”: this is a statement not an argument. Could you elaborate please? Besides why not addressing him directly? “Magnus, I don’t like your articles (and here is why)” sounds a bit closer to a dialogue than a public attack.

My own reading is that Magnus was trying to emphasise the traumatic experience of people who are forced to abandon their mother language and to learn the dominant language. Some chose to use this dominant language to express themselves, some radically reject that language. The current Chinese policies in the Uyghur region, rather than building bridges and harmony, are creating the same rejection process; though indeed, as in the German case, some chose to use the dominant language to express their identity (like Tibetan writer Pema Tseden for instance).

Concluding from this comparison that Magnus hates Chinese and Germans… there might be other platforms to “laver votre linge sale” as the French saying goes.

Vanessa Frangville <vanessafrangville@gmail.com> Continue reading

A language under attack (1)

Magnus Fiskesjö seems to hate China. I do not like his articles. Magnus seems to hate Germany. Please let me ask, the Nobel prize winner Elias Canetti who wrote in German was German? Kafka was German, Rilke was German? They all wrote in German, but they were not Germans at all. German is the language of Nazis? There is something else. Like me. Writing in German and in Chinese I am fighting Nazis etc. all the time.

The late Irene Eber – I loved her very much – once told me there were so many Germans who helped her… There is something else….

Wolfgang Kubin <kubin@uni-bonn.de>

A language under attack

China’s banning and suppressing of the Uyghur and other native languages of Xinjiang, and the forced teaching of Chinese there, reminds me of the Nazi occupation of Norway, when kids there were forced to learn German. My mom was one of those kids, and she never regained a respect for the German language; even I, born much later, failed to study German, just because the Nazis forced my mom to study it. Now I wonder, will the Chinese language suffer similarly, because of the vile oppression they are carrying out now? In the camps, people are starved and beaten if they don’t keep up, in singing Chinese Communist songs glorifying their Führer. With this sort of campaign, why would anyone want to study Chinese language any more — the language of the concentration camps?

Magnus Fiskesjö  <nf42@cornell.edu>

Source: Hong Kong Free Press (6/18/19)
A language under attack: China’s campaign to sever the Uighur tongue
By Rustem Shir, Research Associate with the Uyghur Human Rights Project

Uighur protest in Washington, DC. Photo: Wikicommons.

Of the 7,111 languages being spoken around the world, 41 per cent can be classified as endangered, meaning that face-to-face use by speakers across generations is in decline.

At first glance, it may seem inaccurate to designate the Uighur language as endangered – more than 11 million people speak Uighur as a first language and Uighur is an official language of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (also known as East Turkestan) in China.

Yet, despite these indicators of vitality, the Uighur language is in peril because it has been targeted by the Chinese Communist Party for erasure. Continue reading

How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang (7)

Brill is a publishing house with a long tradition of publishing high quality research in Asian Studies, and in particular in Sinology and Modern China. During the selection and review process for publication, we rely on the expertise of our book series and journal editors as well as peer reviewers from around the globe. High ethical standards are the foundation of this selection process, and Brill authors, editors, and reviewers are expected to follow our standards at all times.

Our newly founded journal China and Asia: A Journal in Historical Studies is a peer-reviewed English-language forum for historical research on relations between China and other regions of Asia that covers both the pre-modern and modern periods. Its purpose is to promote communication and exchange among the global Asian Studies community, especially among scholars based in Asian countries. At Brill, we strongly believe that our journals should be a platform where the entire academic community can freely share and discuss arguments, ideas, and opinions in order to further the advancement of knowledge. Continue reading

Shanghai professor tells grads to fight for liberty

Source: Inkstone (6/19/19)
Shanghai Professor tells graduates to fight for liberty
By Qin Chen

Qu Weiguo went to Harvard University in 2004 as a visiting scholar for the Fullbright program.

Qu Weiguo went to Harvard University in 2004 as a visiting scholar for the Fullbright program. Photo: Weibo

It’s graduation time around the world, including in China, where students don their caps and gowns and listen to speeches that endeavor to offer insight into the meaning of life.

Qu Weiguo, the head of the English department at the prestigious Fudan University in Shanghai, took this opportunity seriously.

This week, he gave the class of 2019 an audacious speech praising the importance of fighting for individual liberty, talking with the world outside China and encouraging students to think independently. Continue reading

A history of gaokao essay questions

Source: Sup China (6/7)19
From Propaganda To Pollution To Smartphones: A History Of Gaokao Essay Questions
For many Chinese high school students, today marked the beginning of three days of Hell.
By Tianyu M. Fang

No other assessment test has been taken by more people than the gaokao, China’s national college entrance examination. Almost every Chinese college graduate you’ve met has at least taken it once, twice, or maybe three times (as was the case with Jack Ma, founder of tech giant Alibaba). What that means is, hundreds of millions of Chinese have gone through the experience of cramming for the test, memorizing materials (up to 60 pieces of ancient Chinese texts), and stressing about whether Lu Xun really meant what he wrote.

It’s no wonder, then, that each year’s gaokao essay questions — which are subjective and often open to interpretation, if not outright confusing — become topics of public scrutiny and debate: because everyone has experienced, to a certain extent, the bewilderment of seeing a question such as, “Write a poem about ‘circle.’” Continue reading

Nicholas Clifford, 1930-2019

In Memoriam: Nicholas Clifford, 1930-2019
http://www.middlebury.edu/newsroom/in-memoriam/node/620670

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury today mourns the loss of Nicholas R. Clifford, who, as a scholar, professor, administrator, trustee, and driving force behind the study of Chinese language and East Asian studies at the College, has left a lasting impact on the institution he so dearly loved and served for more than half a century.

“He was, quite simply, one of the most admirable and beloved members of the widespread College community,” said John D. Berninghausen, the Truscott Professor Emeritus of Chinese Studies. “A real junzi [Chinese for ‘gentleman’ or ‘cultivated person’], Nick was a man of honor and integrity, personal as well as professional. He was one of the wisest, fairest, most judicious, and intelligent people I have ever met.” Continue reading

How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang (6)

Source: Inside Higher Education (5/20/19)
X-ing Out Xinjiang
By Elizabeth Redden
A China studies scholar says a journal editor censored him by striking out a section of a book review critical of the Chinese government’s policies in Xinjiang. The editor denies it was censorship.

Courtesy of Timothy Grose

In yet another case of alleged censorship in the China studies field, a scholar says a journal editor censored his book review by requesting the deletion of an opening paragraph that contextualized the book in light of Chinese Communist Party policy toward members of the Uighur ethnic minority group in the region of Xinjiang. Human rights groups estimate that China has detained as many as one million Uighurs in camps as part of a mass “re-education” drive aimed at forcing the assimilation of Uighurs and other Muslim-majority groups.

The scholar, Timothy Grose, an assistant professor of China studies at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, says the requested deletions — and the refusal over multiple months to publish the piece after he did not consent to them — constitute an “open-and-shut” case of censorship, and he has noted that the editor in chief of the journal is on record defending Chinese government policy in Xinjiang. Continue reading

How a journal censored by review of Xinjiang (5)

May I chime in as an Uyghur scholar?

I don’t think to hold a person accountable for restricting academic freedom is attacking. We should hold Brill accountable for their lack of communication and oversight but the person who is responsible for censoring the content is at fault from the beginning. Maybe it is my personal experience and feelings as an Uyghur are clouding my judgment, but at least my view comes from a desire for academic freedom, which I never had before coming to the US. If calling out Han Xiaorong for not respecting academic freedom is “attacking” him, well, count me in! I’m “attacking” Han Xiaorong for attempting to censor Dr. Grose’s review. It also is irresponsible of us if we solely put the blame on Brill, and would only perpetuate this kind of abhorrent behavior further.

Mirshad Ghalip <mieralif@iu.edu>
Department of Anthropology
Indiana University

How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang (5)

Recently a suspected case of censorship in one of Brill’s journals came to our attention, involving a book review written by Timothy Grose for our new journal China and Asia: A Journal in Historical Studies.  We have heard about the case on 7 April through Timothy Grose’s posting on social media and have acted immediately by contacting him. During the last weeks we were in a process of gathering information about the case. We have received a report from the author and copies of the correspondence between the author and editor. On 16 May we have received a report from the editor describing his perspective of the events. We will review this information to decide whether our publication ethics have been breached. As publisher we are never involved with editorial decisions and our editorial boards enjoy complete academic freedom. However, if our publication ethics have been breached, we will not hesitate to take appropriate action. Censorship or any other bias to race, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, ethnic origin, citizenship, or political philosophy of the authors would be a clear breach of our ethical standards and are not acceptable.

Jasmin Lange <langej@brill.com>
Chief Publishing Officer, Brill

How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang (4)

I do not believe it is fruitful or correct to focus on Han Xiaorong or any one person. I do believe Brill, as a publisher and as a business that purports to work in the academic world of free inquiry, needs to take responsibility for its attempts to play all sides of a very fraught issue. It cannot be an honest broker without honesty. Brill needs to be held to account. The attacks on Han Xiaorong need to stop. In my opinion.

Rebecca Karl <karl.rebecca22@gmail.com>

How a journal censored my review on Xinjiang (3)

No one ever openly and proudly admits that they are engaged in censorship. I get it. Even the Propaganda Department would like to be known as the Publicity Department.

And yet, like the famous quote about obscenity, when it comes to censorship, I know it when I see it. And despite Han Xiaorong’s attempts to explain away what happened at the journal China and Asia, this seems to me to be an extremely clear-cut case of censorship.

Han claims that the reference to Xinjiang’s concentration camps at the beginning of Grose’s review is “political” and thus somehow inappropriate. But as someone who writes a fair amount of book reviews, I’ve never encountered an editor who was resistant to linking a book review to pressing current affairs. This applies even to journals focused on history. Books are, after all, read in the context of the world as it is today, and I find it frankly impossible to read Cliff’s book without thinking about the ongoing tragedy in Xinjiang. Continue reading