Thinking the Republic of China symposium

Thinking the Republic of China: An International Symposium 《思考中華民國》國際論壇
Time: August 21, 2021 to September 6, 2021 (Local Taiwan Time)
Location: Online
Registration is Open and Preferred
Organiser: The Global Sinology Forum at National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan (國際漢學平台在中山)

To register and for program details, please click here and here

In 2015, professor Yang Rur-bin (楊儒賓) published In Praise of 1949 (1949禮讚), a short volume that examined the long term intellectual and cultural impact that the 1949 transfer of the Republic of China (ROC) state structure to Taiwan had on the island. Published at a time of rising nativist nationalism on the island, Yang’s work argued that despite the historic traumas associated with the ROC regime in Taiwan, the 1949 rupture also transformed Taiwanese society in a variety of positive ways, imbuing it with a state structure that not only valued traditional Chinese culture (at a time when it was being openly denounced on the Mainland), but also possessed powerful forces within it committed to liberalism and democracy, grounded in a democratic tradition of thought that went back to the late-Qing.

台灣清華大學的楊儒賓教授在2015年發表了《1949禮讚》,探索了1949年中華民國國體撤退到台灣,長期對島嶼內部文化與知識上的影響。此書出版時,台灣社會的本土意識正在上揚。著論旨在提倡,雖無人能否認中華民國在台灣造成的歷史傷痛,但1949年兩岸的裂解也使得台灣社會開始進行重要的正向轉化。在中國大陸政權否認中華文化的同時,中華民國不僅賦予台灣一個重視中華傳統文化的政體,在其脈絡中亦有重視民主與自由主義的勢力來到島嶼,並以晚清以降的民主主義與民族主義思潮為理論基礎。 Continue reading

Dartmouth position

Assistant Professor, History of Modern China (1800-present)
Dartmouth College: School of Arts & Sciences: Social Sciences: History
Location: Hanover, NH
Open Date: Aug 9, 2021
Deadline: Oct 1, 2021 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time


The Department of History at Dartmouth College invites applications for a historian of Modern China (1800-present), to be appointed at the rank of Assistant Professor, beginning July 1, 2022. The person in this position will be asked to teach Introductory courses in both the History of Pre-modern China and the History of Modern China, as well as upper level and topics courses in cultural, economic, social, or political history. Qualified candidates must show promise of outstanding scholarly achievement and a commitment to classroom teaching at the undergraduate level.

History faculty regularly collaborate with faculty and students in Dartmouth’s Asian Societies, Cultures, and Languages (ASCL) program; the courses taught by a historian of China will generally be cross-listed in ASCL. Faculty are also engaged in Dartmouth’s Leslie Center for the Humanities, the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy, and the Consortium of Studies in Race, Migration, and Sexuality, which all provide contexts for collaboration and support in research and teaching. Further resources for teaching and research in Chinese and East Asian history are available through Rauner Special Collections and the Hood Museum of Art. Our teaching mission is supported by the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning (DCAL). We are especially interested in candidates who have a demonstrated ability to contribute to Dartmouth’s undergraduate diversity initiatives in research, such as the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. Continue reading

Rescuing China’s muzzled past

Source: NYT (7/25/21)
Rescuing China’s Muzzled Past, One Footnote at a Time
阅读简体中文版 | 閱讀繁體中文版
In a two-volume tome, the independent historian Yu Ruxin explains the crucial role of the military in Mao’s stormy Cultural Revolution.
By Chris Buckely

The historian Yu Ruxin, in Hong Kong in May. His book, “Through the Storm,” sheds new light on the central role of the military during the Cultural Revolution. Credit…Lam Yik Fei for The New York Times

For decades, Yu Ruxin, a businessman turned independent historian, scoured used book stalls across China for frayed, yellowing documents about the Cultural Revolution, a decade of mass political upheaval unleashed by Mao Zedong.

The fruit of his long quest was published in Hong Kong this month, a 1,354-page history that sheds new light on the central role of the military during the Cultural Revolution. The People’s Liberation Army is widely known to have been called in to impose order, but Mr. Yu also documents in meticulous detail how the military was also involved in purges and political persecution.

“Through the Storm,” a two-volume Chinese-language book buttressed with 2,421 footnotes, stands out all the more these days, when the Chinese authorities are determined to erase the darkest chapters of the party’s history.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, this month celebrated 100 years since the founding of the country’s Communist Party. The centenary has skipped over the political upheavals and mass suffering that characterized the party’s earlier decades in power. Continue reading

Network of Concerned Historians 2021 report

The Annual Report 2021 of the Network of Concerned Historians (NCH) is now available (pdf; 167 pp.):

This is the 27th NCH Annual Report. It contains news about the domain where history and human rights intersect in 106 countries, especially about the censorship of history and the persecution of historians, archivists, and archaeologists around the globe, as reported by various human rights organizations and other sources. It mainly covers events and developments of 2020 and 2021. The fact that NCH presents this news does not imply that it shares the views and beliefs of the historians and others mentioned in it.

The Landscape of Historical Memory review

MCLC Resource Center has published James Flath’s review of The Landscape of Historical Memory: The Politics of Museums and Memorial Culture in Post-Martial Law Taiwan, by Kirk A. Denton. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

The Landscape of Historical Memory:
The Politics of Museums and Memorial Culture in Post-Martial Law Taiwan

By Kirk A. Denton

Reviewed by James Flath

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2021)

Kirk A. Denton. The Landscape of Historical Memory: The Politics of Museums and Memorial Culture in Post-Martial Law Taiwan Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2021. 284 pp. ISBN: 978-988-8528-57-8 (hardback).

Following his previous study of museums in China (Exhibiting the Past: Historical Memory and the Politics of Museums in China2014), Kirk Denton has extended his analysis to the museums of Taiwan. As in the former volume, the author is interested in the evolution of exhibition space and the ways in which historical narratives are shaped by present-day politics. However, whereas Chinese museums seem to be caught up in the ambiguity of belonging to a neoliberal state burdened with a communist history, Taiwan museums offer a master class in how to construct a pluralistic national identity.

Taiwan is a uniquely interesting case because the citizens of that island are intensely concerned about their identity and with positioning themselves in relation to their gigantic neighbor. During the Cold War, Taiwan’s few but notable historical museums followed the Guomindang (KMT) mandate of promoting reunification with the mainland and identifying Taiwan as the “real” China. That “blue” mandate continues to influence museum culture, but Denton explains how in post-martial law Taiwan the museum culture has grown to include the nativist “green” mandate of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). As Taiwan’s government changes hands, the “national” museums and memorial spaces adjust their narratives—sometimes in ways that seem intended to infuriate the opposition, but often in ways that accommodate diverse points of view. Continue reading

‘Dragon man’ skull forces scientists to rethink evolution

Source: The Guardian (6/25/21)
Massive human head in Chinese well forces scientists to rethink evolution
‘Dragon man’ skull reveals new branch of family tree more closely related to modern humans than Neanderthals
By Ian Sample Science editor

Fossilised skull found in Chinese well

Chinese researchers have called the skull, found in Harbin in the north, Homo longi, or ‘Dragon man’, but other experts are more cautious about naming a new species. Photograph: Wei Gao

The discovery of a huge fossilised skull that was wrapped up and hidden in a Chinese well nearly 90 years ago has forced scientists to rewrite the story of human evolution.

Analysis of the remains has revealed a new branch of the human family tree that points to a previously unknown sister group more closely related to modern humans than the Neanderthals.

The extraordinary fossil has been named a new human species, Homo longi or “Dragon man”, by Chinese researchers, although other experts are more cautious about the designation.

“I think this is one of the most important finds of the past 50 years,” said Prof Chris Stringer, research leader at the Natural History Museum in London, who worked on the project. “It’s a wonderfully preserved fossil.” Continue reading

The World Turned Upside Down review

World Literature Today has published my review of Yang Jisheng’s The World Turned Upside Down: A History of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (translated by Stacy Mosher and Guo Jian, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

Ping Zhu (University of Oklahoma)

Source: World Literature Today (6/17/21)
The Weight of Remembering: On Yang Jisheng’s History of the Chinese Cultural Revolution
By Ping Zhu

A black and white photograph of a forest rising up out of a body of water. The trees are mirrored in the water

Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing / Photo by Alex Berger / Flickr

The year 2021 marks the centenary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In April, the CCP released the latest edition of A Brief History of the Communist Party of China, in which the chapter dedicated to the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) disappears. This latest edition touches on the Cultural Revolution in no more than 13 pages in another chapter entitled “Twists and Turns on the Road to Socialist Reconstruction.” It glosses over Mao Zedong’s mistakes, simply stating that Mao had waged “an incessant war on corruption, special privileges and bureaucratic mentality within party ranks. … Many of his correct ideas about how to build a socialist society weren’t fully implemented, which led to internal turmoil.”

This year also marks the publication of the abridged English translation of Yang Jisheng’s The World Turned Upside Down: A History of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, translated by Stacy Mosher and Guo Jian (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The book contains 29 chapters and 768 pages. In the words of WLT editor in chief Daniel Simon, it looks like “a door stopper” by virtue of its size and weight. The original Chinese version of The World Turned Upside Down (Tianfan Difu), which was first published in Hong Kong in 2016, is weightier, containing 32 chapters and 1,069 pages. Continue reading

Meet the mystery woman who mastered IBM’s Chinese typewriter

Source: Fast Company (5/17/21)
Meet the mystery woman who mastered IBM’s 5,400-character Chinese typewriter
Lois Lew operated the improbable, ill-fated machine with aplomb in presentations from Manhattan to Shanghai. 70-plus years later, she’s telling her story.
By Thomas S. Mullaney

Meet the mystery woman who mastered IBM’s 5,400-character Chinese typewriter

[Photos: courtesy of IBM]

I had seen this woman before. Many times now. I was certain of it. But who was she? In a film from 1947, she’s operating an electric Chinese typewriter, the first of its kind, manufactured by IBM. Semi-circled by journalists, and a nervous-looking middle-aged Chinese man—Kao Chung-chin, the engineer who invented the machine—she radiates a smile as she pulls a sheet of paper from the device. Kao is biting his lip, his eyes darting back and forth intently between the crowd and the typist.

As soon as I saw that film, I began to riffle through my files. I’m a professor of Chinese history at Stanford University, and I was years into a book project on the history of modern Chinese information technology—and the Chinese typewriter specifically. By that point, I had amassed a large and still-growing body of source materials, including archival documents, historic photographs, and even antique machines. My office was becoming something of a private museum.

As I thought, I’d encountered the typist previously in my research, in glossy IBM brochures and on the cover of Chinese magazines. Who was she? Why did she appear so frequently, so prominently, in the history of IBM’s effort to electrify the Chinese language? Continue reading

Risk of nuclear war over Taiwan in 1958

Source: NYT (5/22/21)
Risk of Nuclear War Over Taiwan in 1958 Said to Be Greater Than Publicly Known
The famed source of the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, has made another unauthorized disclosure — and wants to be prosecuted for it.
By Charlie Savage

Soldiers in 1958 on Kinmen Island, also called Quemoy. According to an apparently still-classified document, American officials doubted they could defend Taiwan with only conventional weapons. Credit…John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — When Communist Chinese forces began shelling islands controlled by Taiwan in 1958, the United States rushed to back up its ally with military force — including drawing up plans to carry out nuclear strikes on mainland China, according to an apparently still-classified document that sheds new light on how dangerous that crisis was.

American military leaders pushed for a first-use nuclear strike on China, accepting the risk that the Soviet Union would retaliate in kind on behalf of its ally and millions of people would die, dozens of pages from a classified 1966 study of the confrontation show. The government censored those pages when it declassified the study for public release.

The document was disclosed by Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked a classified history of the Vietnam War, known as the Pentagon Papers, 50 years ago. Mr. Ellsberg said he had copied the top secret study about the Taiwan Strait crisis at the same time but did not disclose it then. He is now highlighting it amid new tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan.

[CRISIS OVER TAIWAN STRAIT: Read the full version of an apparently still-classified document or just its previously censored pages.] Continue reading

Ancient relief sculpture brought alive

Source: China Daily (4/29/21)
Relief sculpture brought alive after millennium

Actors hold live performance presenting the image of a relief sculpture dating back to the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), Zhengzhou, Central China’s Henan province, on April 28, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Carved in Binyangzhong Cave, an imperial cave excavated in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), the relief sculpture Emperor and Empress Pay Respect for Buddha is a national treasure of great historical and cultural values.In the 1930s, the sculpture was stolen and taken abroad in pieces. “We hope to resurrect this work through many forms, and this live-action performance is one of them. It took nearly three months to prepare,” Dan Gao, researcher of Longmen Grottoes Research Institute, said.

In order to restore the images on the relief, the research team collected literature and pictures, and studied the character’s makeup and hair, costumes, props and movements one by one.

Apart from the actors for the emperor and empress, most of the 40-plus cast members are young people born after 2000. Continue reading

The Museum Victoria City brings colonial history to life

Source: SCMP (5/3/21)
Hong Kong’s colonial history brought to life at The Museum Victoria City with avid collector’s authentic and reimagined artefacts
Collector and founder of The Museum Victoria City, Bryan Ong has been interested in colonial memorabilia since he was 15 years old. His collection includes medals, military jackets, banknotes and hand-painted reproductions

Bryan Ong, founder of The Museum in Central, Hong Kong. Ong has amassed a collection of British colonial and military items. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Bryan Ong, founder of The Museum in Central, Hong Kong. Ong has amassed a collection of British colonial and military items. Photo: Jonathan Wong

The recently opened The Museum Victoria City in Central takes visitors down memory lane, with a mixture of authentic and re-interpreted nostalgic items from colonial Hong Kong.

There are red British military ceremonial jackets, embroidered badges with a lion and a dragon, a full body armour plate, the old “Murray Building” sign before it was turned into a hotel, and the old Urban Council logo.

There’s also a portrait of young Queen Elizabeth wearing a crown and yellow evening gown that looks like it could have hung in a government building up until June 30, 1997, except that it isn’t a British government-issued portrait – instead it’s one the Museum’s founder Bryan Ong Ye-hou had painted.

“The original portrait is in The Royal Gallery. The royal portraits that were in the [Hong Kong] government buildings were all copies,” he says. There are surviving old government copies but these have faded. So he and his team repainted the portrait, which required research into the garter and details of the jewellery she was wearing. Continue reading

Museum Representations of Chinese Diasporas

Dear colleagues,

Hope this email finds you well. I am pleased to inform you that the next Contemporary China Centre event/seminar coorganised with HOMELandS will be presented by Cangbai Wang. He will talk about his new book, Museum Representations of Chinese Diasporas, with guest discussant Yow Cheun Hoe (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore). You may register here and the Zoom link will be provided in due course.

How Wee Ng

About this Event

Book event: “Museum Representations of Chinese Diasporas: Migration Histories and the Cultural Heritage of the Homeland” (May 20, 2021)
Organised by Contemporary China Centre and HOMELandS (Hub on Migration, Exile, Language and Spaces) University of Westminster
*Zoom link will be sent out before the event

Museum Representations of Chinese Diasporas is the first book to analyse the recent upsurge in museums on Chinese diasporas in China. Examining heritage-making beyond the nation state, the book provides a much-needed, critical examination of China’s engagement with its diasporic communities. In this event, author Dr Cangbai Wang (University of Westminster, United Kingdom) will talk about his research findings with guest discussant Associate Professor Yow Cheun Hoe (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore). Continue reading

China allows people to pay respects to Jiang Qing

Source: Radio Free Asia (4/7/21)
China Allows People to Pay Respects at Grave of Cultural Revolution Leader Jiang Qing
By Qiao Long

China Allows People to Pay Respects at Grave of Cultural Revolution Leader Jiang Qing

Picture dated 25 January 1981 in Beijing of Jiang Qing (1914-91), third wife of Mao Zedong during the trial of the “Gang of Four”, four Shanghai-based hard-core radical leaders of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). AFP

The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has allowed public access to the grave of Jiang Qing, former member of the Gang of Four and widow of late supreme leader Mao Zedong, ahead of its centenary on July 1.

“This was sent to me by a friend in mainland China, and I am forwarding it here,” former CCP Party School professor Cai Xia, who now lives in the United States, said via her Twitter account on April 5, the traditional grave-tending festival where people make long journeys to honor the dead.

She said the move was in contrast with the state security police detail that guarded the grave of late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, who fell from power after opposing the use of military force against unarmed civilians in 1989.

“People aren’t allowed to pay their respects at Zhao Ziyang’s grave, and yet Jiang Qing’s grave is open to the public,” Cai wrote. “The CCP is afraid of whom the public might admire most.” Continue reading

A Conference in Honor of Wang Zheng

Gender in Chinese Studies: A Conference in Honor of Wang Zheng

Join us as we celebrate the career and contributions of Wang Zheng, pioneering feminist and scholar, beloved teacher, and esteemed colleague!

This conference features papers by her former students as well as current graduate students, and a keynote address by Gail Hershatter (Distinguished Professor of History, UC Santa Cruz). We will reflect on the development of Chinese gender studies, past and present, and explore future directions for research. This conference is sponsored by the Women’s and Gender Studies Department and the Lieberthal-Rogel Center for Chinese Studies at the University of Michigan.

Schedule overview (times in EDT):

9:30 am–Welcome
10:00 am–Panel #1 (“Archives and History”)
12 noon–Keynote address, Gail Hershatter
2:00 pm–Panel #2 (“Scholarship and Activism”)

10:00 am–UM graduate student panel (“Future Directions”)
11:10 am–Lunch and mingle
1:00 pm–Panel #3 (“Interspecies, Affects, and Boundary Pushing”)
2:45–Closing remarks by Wang Zheng

NOTE: Advance registration is required for this free Zoom event. Visit this link to register.

For the most up-to-date details on participants, papers, and abstracts, please see our Google Doc schedule.

Intellectual Groups in Post-Mao China

Talk title: Intellectual Groups in Post-Mao China, 1976—2000
Time and Location: Wednesday, March 31, 7pm EST, virtual talk
Organizer: Chinese program and political science department, University of Richmond


In contemporary China, people often speak of “left” or “right” as an indicator of one’s political orientation, but what does such a label mean? Commentators often say that ideological designators in China are different, or even to the contrary of, those in the West, but how did that happen? In this talk, I propose that we go back to history to find the answer. I will trace the evolution of China’s intellectual field, paying particular attention to the key debates and the formation of intellectual groups. If we view liberalism and the New Left as “communities of discourse” rather than coherent political philosophies, we will be able to appreciate the complexity of contemporary Chinese political thought.

Speaker: Junpeng Li, his profile is available at:

To attend this event, please register at: A link to the virtual talk will be sent to you the day before the event.

Posted by: Gengsong Gao