Cambria event in Singapore

Professor Victor Mair (University of Pennsylvania), general editor of the Cambria Sinophone World Series, will be the guest of honor and giving a speech at the Cambria double book launch event for Painting History: China’s Revolution in a Global Context and Gao Xingjian and Transmedia Aesthetics. The event will be held on July 14, 2018 (Saturday) at 2–5 p.m. at iPreciation (Singapore), a premier gallery that showcases the best of modern and contemporary Asian art, including the works of Nobel laureate Gao Xingjian. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet Professor Mair, in addition to authors Mr. Shen Jiawei and Dr. Mabel Lee, who will be giving talks about their books. If you will be in Singapore on this date, please join us for this special event and register now for it. Registration is free.

Celebrity artist Shen Jiawei is not only known for his commissioned portraits of dignitaries, such as Pope Francis and Princess Mary of Denmark, but also his famous history paintings, which are held at the National Museum, Art Museum, and Military Museum in Beijing, as well as in public and private collections around the world. Mr. Shen’s unique experiences and innovative techniques are documented in his new book Painting History: China’s Revolution in a Global Context (edited by Dr. Mabel Lee), which he will discuss at the event. Continue reading

Interview with Cai Xiang

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Yu Zhang’s and Calvin Hui’s interview with Cai Xiang, professor of modern Chinese literature at Shanghai University. Too long to publish in full here, you can find the entire interview, along with the original Chinese version, at http://u.osu.edu/mclc/online-series/zhang-hui/

Enjoy,

Kirk Denton, editor

Postsocialism and Its Narratives:
An Interview with Cai Xiang

Interviewed and Translated by Yu Zhang and Calvin Hui


MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright June 2018)


Cai Xiang

Time: July 3, 2016
Location: Bodao Café, 1420 Meichuan Road, Putuo District, Shanghai, P. R. China

Notes from the Interviewers and Translators: Cai Xiang is Professor of Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature in the Department of Chinese at Shanghai University and the director of its Research Center for Contemporary Literature. His book Revolution and Its Narratives: China’s Socialist Literary and Cultural Imaginaries, 1949-1966 was translated into English by Rebecca E. Karl and Xueping Zhong and published by Duke University Press in 2016. In this interview, Cai Xiang shares his thoughts about the contemporary Chinese writer Lu Yao (1949-1992) and China in the 1980s, the revival of realism, pure literature, the relationship between the subaltern and the middle class, literary and cultural studies in China, and finally his research on socialist literature and culture. Cai Xiang stresses the importance of rebuilding an ideal mainstream society and looking for a new kind of certainty in this fragmented world. He also introduces illuminating new concepts such as “intellectual laborer,” “cultural proletariat,” and “petty bourgeois-socialism” to understand the cultural politics of postsocialist China. For the Chinese version, see below. The interviewers would like to express our gratitude to Kirk Denton and Xueping Zhong for their support and to Gao Ming for his assistance.

Ordinary World, by Lu Yao

Interviewer: In the past few years, the Chinese writer Lu Yao (1949-1992), the author of the novel Ordinary World, has regained broad attention and huge popularity in China.[1] The airing of the TV serial Ordinary World (2015) made his work even more appealing to contemporary Chinese readers. I heard it has become one of the most widely read novels among college students in China. Your career as a literary critic started with the publication of an essay about Lu Yao’s well-known novella “Life” (1982). Could you tell us about the writing of this essay?

Cai: That was about thirty years ago. Now, looking back, I think what motivated me to write about Lu Yao’s “Life” was several factors: first, “Life” suggests the possibility of changing one’s destiny, even though the male protagonist’s effort fails in this tragic story. This was probably one of the key issues in the 1980s. It was precisely in the 1980s when everyone felt there was a possibility to change their fate. China’s “planned economic system” had lasted for thirty years, but then the system started to be shaken up. The reason I used quotation marks for “planned economic system” is that the concept permeated the entire society, including every aspect of individual life. Therefore, it is not merely an economic concept; an individual’s destiny was determined by the society within the planned economic system. Of course, the planned economy also brought with it a sense of security and even warmth from inside the community. Published precisely at this historical juncture, “Life” implied that the nature of human fate is changing, which actually refers to what is commonly called social mobility (such as the migration from the countryside to the city that takes place in the novella). Moreover, this change can be determined by the individual, yet it comes with high risk and a strong sense of insecurity, and even causes an inner fear. In Lu Yao’s novella, the fear is manifested in the realm of morality. . . [Read the rest of the interview here]

Simon Leys: Navigator between Worlds review

Source: NY Review of Books (June 28, 2018)
One Decent Man
Reviewed by Geremie R. Barmé

[Simon Leys: Navigator Between Worlds
by Philippe Paquet, translated from the French by Julie Rose
Carlton: La Trobe University Press/Black Inc., 664 pp., $35.00]

Pierre Ryckmans, who wrote under the name Simon Leys, on the Great Wall of China, 1955. Ryckmans Family Archives

1.

The thought of hearing back from Simon Leys filled me with dread. It was late 1976 and I was an exchange student at a university in Shenyang, in northeast China. I’d only recently learned that Pierre Ryckmans, the man who had taught me Chinese, was none other than Simon Leys, a writer both celebrated and reviled in the French-speaking world.

Mao Zedong had died in September. Not long after, Leys published an obituary in the Australian press. Mao, he said, had

outlived himself by some twenty years. If he had died a few years after the Liberation, he would have gone down in history as one of China’s most momentous leaders. Unfortunately, during the last part of his life, by stubbornly clinging to an outdated utopia, by becoming frozen in his own idiosyncrasies and private visions…he became in fact a major obstacle to the development of the Chinese revolution.

For nearly thirty years Mao had been the only fixed point in the tumultuous life of China. In the mid-1960s the uprising of the Red Guards, zealous high school students who attacked Mao’s enemies, had made the People’s Republic an epicenter of youthful rebellion, and although my original interest in China was inspired by Taoism and classical literature, I was also enamored of contemporary politics. Continue reading

Ban on Pakistani scholars at AAS-in-Asia

Posted by: Rebecca Karl <karl.rebecca22@gmail.com>
Source: The Wire (6/7/18)
Ban on Pak Scholars Against Open Exchange of Ideas: Asian Studies Conference Organisers
A political clearance letter from the MEA includes explicit instructions from the Indian government to not include any scholars from Pakistan at next month’s event.
By Devirupa Mitra

Ban on Pak Scholars Against Open Exchange of Ideas: Asian Studies Conference Organisers

An image from 1947 showing the partition of books from India and Pakistan, at the Calcutta National Library.

New Delhi: Next month, India will be playing host for Asian studies scholars from all over the world for a major conference. But, following explicit instructions from Indian government, Pakistani academics will not be allowed to participate.

The Association for Asian Studies is the premier international academic body of Asianists with around 10,000 members. Every year since 2014, it holds an annual AAS-in-ASIA conference for scholars who cannot attend the annual event in North America. The last four conferences were held in Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Continue reading

Seminars in modern Chinese fiction

Two Seminars in Modern Chinese Fiction at the Lau China Centre, Kings College London
Thursday 7th and Thursday 14th June, 10-12, at Bush House, KCL

The first seminar will consider ‘I Love Dollars’ by Zhu Wen, originally published in Chinese in the late 1990s, and the second ‘The Story of Ah Q ‘ by Lu Xun, first published in Chinese in 1921.

The seminars are presented by journalist and writer Poppy Sebag-Montefiore, will be discussions on short stories from bestselling classics from either end of the 20th century.

Through close reading, the sessions will explore the ways the texts deal with sexuality, patriarchy, filial piety, women, masculinity, the individual, romantic love, society and the state. They will also consider the tone of the writing, the use of humour, parody and the absurd, and consider the ways in which they experiment with the story form. Continue reading

Archaeologist Zhao Kangmin dies at 82

Source: NPR (5/20/18)
Archaeologist Who Uncovered China’s 8,000-Man Terra Cotta Army Dies At 82
By SASHA INGBER

Lifelike clay soldiers at the Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi’an, northwestern China. The first figures were reconstructed by archaeologist Zhao Kangmin, who died Wednesday. Ludovic Marin /AFP/Getty Images

A Chinese archaeologist who identified a long-lost clay army consisting of 8,000 soldiers died Wednesday, according to China’s state media.

Zhao Kangmin first laid eyes on fragments of terra cotta warriors in 1974. Farmers some 20 miles from China’s central city of Xi’an were digging a well and struck into the pieces.

They had no idea what they had found — an army that had been interred for more than 2,000 years to guard China’s first emperor. Continue reading

Man Booker reverses decision on Wu Ming-Yi

Source: The Guardian (4/4/18)
Man Booker prize reverses nationality decision on Taiwanese author
The literary prize announces that it will no longer list authors by nationality, but by country or territory, after drawing criticism when it bowed to pressure from China
By Alison Flood

Proudly Taiwanese … Wu Ming-Yi, pictured in Taipei in 2016.

Proudly Taiwanese … Wu Ming-Yi, pictured in Taipei in 2016. Photograph: Wu Ming-Yi/EPA

The Man Booker International prize has backed away from its decision to change a Taiwanese author’s nationality to “Taiwan, China” after it was criticised for bowing to pressure from Beijing.

Author Wu Ming-Yi, who has been longlisted for his novel The Stolen Bicycle, was originally described by award organisers as a writer from Taiwan, when his nomination was announced in March. Following a complaint from the Chinese embassy in London last week, his nationality was changed on the prize’s website to “Taiwan, China”.

Beijing maintains that the self-governed island is part of China, and has recently ramped up pressure on foreign companies that describe Taiwan as a country, with German airline Lufthansa and British Airways dropping Taiwan from their lists of countries.

The switch was noted by Wu on his Facebook page, where he said it was “not my personal position on this issue”. The cause was also taken up by Taiwan’s ministry of culture, which stated that Taiwan was “a sovereign state that participates in international affairs with respect and fairness”, and called on the Booker Prize Foundation not to “bow to external influence and … respect authors and their home countries”.

As the Man Booker International prize’s Facebook page was flooded with one-star reviews and petitions were launched calling on it to reverse its decision and identify Wu’s country as Taiwan, the organisers announced on Wednesday morning that “following correspondence with stakeholders and additional guidance on the appropriate terminology from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office”, in the future it would list the “country/territory” of authors up for the prize, rather than their nationalities. Wu will again be listed as “Taiwan”.

“The prize is not about defining nationality; all global citizens are eligible, provided they are published in translation in the UK,” said the organisers in a statement.

A spokesperson for the prize added: “It is the country/territory of origin rather than nationality. Taiwan is officially designated a territory rather than a country by the FCO.”

The Chinese embassy, which initially complained to the Foundation about how it had identified Wu, said in a statement: “China’s position on the Taiwan issue is consistent and clear. There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inseparable part of China. This is the universal consensus of the international community. China opposes any words or deeds that violate the one-China principle and are contrary to the international consensus.”

Khan Award for Asian/Asian American folklore

The Transnational Asia/Pacific Section of the American Folklore Society (AFS) is proud to present the Saboohi I. Khan Award for Student Scholarship in Asian and Asian American Folklore.

The award aims to mentor graduate and undergraduate students and to foster and encourage scholarly research and publication on Asian and/or Asian American folklore and folklife. The $500 prize winner will be announced at the AFS annual meeting for the best student paper that contributes to Asian and/or Asian American folklore studies through research and analysis.

The co-conveners of the Transnational Asia/Pacific Section will form the selection committee, together with three additional members, including Dr. Fariha Khan, who sponsors this award. At the time of submission, the applicant must be a registered full-time graduate or undergraduate student. He or she may be enrolled in any discipline in any U.S. or international academic institution. The work must show compelling prospects for the publication of his or her scholarly work and demonstrate a dedication to research and/or teaching folklore studies. Continue reading

The sincere indignation of Simon Leys

Source: LA Review of Books, China Channel (3/19/18)
The Sincere Indignation of Simon Leys
By Josh Freedman
Josh Freedman reviews Philippe Paquet’s biography of the iconoclastic sinologist

Simon Leys

If there is a single climactic moment in Philippe Paquet’s exhaustive, colorful account of the life of the writer Simon Leys, it occurs on a staid French television show about books. It was 1983, and Leys had recently published his fourth collection of acerbic essays on China’s ruling party; yet the host of the popular show Apostrophes had to work hard to cajole Leys into coming to Paris to talk about his book on the air. Leys had no interest in doing publicity for his books, and rarely granted interviews to the media; plus, in this instance, he knew that any discussion on the show would inevitably stir up controversy. Paris had been the epicenter of pro-Maoist sentiment in the 1960s and 1970s, and Leys had spent more than a decade as one of the few critics unswervingly standing up to the tide of revolutionary fervor in the Francophone world. He was, for many Parisian China-watchers, public enemy number one. Continue reading

The Stolen Bicycle nominated for Man Booker

Source: Taipei Times (3/14/18)
‘The Stolen Bicycle’ to compete with 12 books for prestigious Man Booker prize
Staff Writer, with CNA

A copy of The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-yi, published in Australia by Text Publishing, is pictured in a publicity photograph. Photo from Grayhawk Agency’s Facebook page

The Stolen Bicycle (單車失竊記), a novel written by Taiwanese author Wu Ming-yi (吳明益) and translated into English by Darryl Sterk, has been selected to contend for the prestigious Man Booker International Prize.

The novel is about a writer who embarks on a quest in search of his missing father’s stolen bicycle.

It was included on a list of 13 novels revealed on Monday by the UK-based Booker Prize Foundation, the organizer of the prize, which rewards the finest work in translated fiction from around the world that is published in the UK and available in English.

This is the first time a work by a Taiwanese writer has been included on the list.

“I’m honored to be listed among them, and the nationality [was listed] as ‘Taiwan,’” Wu said in a Facebook post, expressing his appreciation to the book’s translator, publisher and readers.

The judges considered 108 books this year, the foundation said. Continue reading

Arif Dirlik’s Life and Work–cfp

“Memorial: Arif Dirlik’s Life and Work”
CFP: China Book Review

China Book Review (ISSN1002-235X), one of the most famous journals of book review, will publish a special issue of “Memorial: Arif Dirlik’s Life and Work.” Everybody is welcome to contribute, including academic papers and reminiscence essays related to Professor Arif Dirlik, either in Chinese or English is fine, but the final versions will be published in Chinese (English papers will be translated into Chinese by professional translators), all contributions will be submitted to the editorial board for review.

Please contact Sunny Han at <hanhan41@188.com> if you are interested in sharing your opinion, please send a short bio as well as a 6000-word or 5000-Chinese character paper to Sunny Han by April 26, 2018.

Sunny Han HAN PhD
Associate Professor of Art History at Shenzhen University
Member Fellow, China Writers Association
Managing Editor, Journal of East Asian Humanities

New MA program at Florida State

New MA Program in East Asian Languages and Cultures at Florida State University

The Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics at Florida State University is pleased to announce that we will shortly start accepting applications for a new Graduate Program (MA) in East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC), scheduled to begin in Fall 2018.

Emphasizing second language instruction and an extensive knowledge of Chinese and Japanese literatures and cultures, this MA program will offer two tracks: (1) Chinese and (2) Japanese. Students entering this program will elect one of these two tracks. EALC encourages students to pursue interdisciplinary interests, correlating linguistic knowledge with numerous intellectual disciplines. Expertise of our core faculty and affiliated members is wide-ranging, including, for example: literary studies, religion, second-language acquisition, visual culture and film studies, and modern history. Our diverse curriculum, which emphasizes language and cultural proficiency, trains students who wish to continue studies in a compatible PhD or professional program, and prepares students for work in federal and foreign service, NGO fields, and language instruction. Continue reading

AAS small grants

China and Inner Asia Council Small Grants Program
Accepting Applications

Dear AAS Members Working on China, Taiwan, and Inner Asia,

The AAS/CIAC has funds to support small grants for members working on China, Taiwan, or Inner Asia. The CIAC Small Grants program is supported by generous funding by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, as well as from independent donations from AAS members that are currently in the process of being solicited (please see the following AAS webpage, bottom, to donate: http://www.asian-studies.org/About/Donate). We are typically able to award approximately 20 – 25 CIAC Small Grants annually (and we are hoping we can garner as much in donations as we did last year to enable this number of awards).

Qualified individuals can apply for small grants up to $2,000 in a number of categories including: research travel, travel for translation projects, conference and seminar organization, specialist or regional newsletters, and website development. Travel to conferences and book subventions are explicitly excluded, unfortunately. Continue reading

Arif Dirlik (3)

As a graduate history student, I am too young to know Prof. Dirlik personally. Nonetheless I am shocked and saddened by the news. He is still young, and I honestly thought there was still time for me to introduce myself to him, meet him, and talk to him about history, culture, various ideological -isms, philosophy… I thought there would be time for me to learn more and be better prepared to discuss such subjects with someone like him.

I discovered Prof. Dirlik too late. I only started reading him when I was working on my first year research paper on the historiography of the Taipings. I was immediately struck by his depth, complexity, deep understanding of Chines intellectual history and sharp perception. He is as much a historian as a philosopher, and I thought no one studying Chinese intellectual history (or modern Chinese history really) can afford not reading him. I wish I had been brave enough to make his acquaintance.

Lin Yang <yal210@ucsd.edu>
History, UCSD

Arif Dirlik (2)

I met Arif Dirlik in 1989, the Fall of 1989 to be exact, at a dinner banquet organized in his honor by the History Department at Nanjing University. I had been brought there by a friend, who thought I would enjoy meeting this Professor from Duke University. I had laryngitis and could barely croak. Somehow, Arif and I managed to have a deep conversation that evening, between my hoarseness and the continual demands to down more shots of baijiu. I have been involved in a conversation with Arif ever since.

Arif was my PhD advisor at Duke University. He was a marvelous advisor. He taught me many things. Most important, I think, is that he taught me how to be fearlessly radical and radically fearless in my intellectual work, my personal life, and my institutional practice. As many of us know, Arif was not an easy person to get along with sometimes, and he sure did know how to insult folks and hold grudges. But he was a serious thinker and a serious scholar and deeply committed to the radical proposition of possibility. One could forgive him much because of that. Continue reading