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This seminar is concerned with the politics, society, culture, and international relations of China from the early nineteenth century to the present. Its broader purpose is to explore the evolution of Chinese civilization over the past century of revolution and rapid social change. Papers—work in progress—are circulated to members and associates in advance of each meeting. Authors are asked to give a brief oral introduction, after which a discussant comments. The entire remainder of each session is comprised of members’ reactions to the paper and the author’s responses.

Seminar Website

Professor Nick Bartlett

Professor Ying Qian 

Professor William Charles Wooldridge

Danping Wang

All seminars will meet over Zoom for the 2020-2021 academic year. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change. 

Meeting Schedule

09/23/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Chinese Elites and U.S. Gatekeeping: Racial Discrimination and Class Privilege in Boston's 1905 King Incident
Emma Teng, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Discussant: Mae Ngai, Columbia University

10/22/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Spectral Sovereignty: Mao, Mediumship, and the Return of Spirits in 'Post'-socialist China
Emily Ng, University of Amsterdam (Netherlands)

Discussant: Katherine Ewing, Columbia University

12/03/2020 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Cold War Counter-Publics and the Ghosts of Pan-Asianism: The Japanese Matsuyama Ballet’s 1958 The White-Haired Girl Tour in China
Emily Wilcox, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


In 1958, the Matsuyama Ballet of Japan toured the first ever ballet adaptation of the classic Chinese land reform opera The White-Haired Girl in China. Examining Chinese-language sources such as newspaper and magazine reviews and rare original programs held in the University of Michigan Asia Library's Chinese Dance Collection, Wilcox reconstructs the circulation and reception of this work in China, arguing that the production represented an attempt to create a leftist Sino-Japanese counter-public at a time of Cold War tensions between the two countries. She suggests that the Japanese ballet dancers' cross-ethnic performances of Chinese characters critically reconfigured pre-1945 Japanese imperialist discourses of pan-Asianism, leading them to be interpreted as acts of inter-ethnic solidarity in the context of 1950s Asian internationalism. This is an early draft of a chapter from Wilcox's new monograph in progress, tentatively titled Performing Solidarities: Ethnic Impersonation in the Radical Inter-Asia Imaginary.

Discussant: Bruce Baird, University of Massachusettes, Amherst

01/21/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
The Currency of Truth: Newsmaking and the Imaginary of China's Digital Era
Emily Chua, National University of Singapore

Discussant: John Osburg, University of Rochester

02/18/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
The Policeman, the Miner, and the Camera: Identifying Sabotage in Maoist China
Chris Chang, Columbia University

Discussant: Fabio Lanza, University of Arizona

03/11/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
Industrial Craft: A Global History of the Chinese Cotton Industry, 1877-1937
Yuan Yi, Columbia University

Discussant: Chuck Wooldridge, Lehman College, CUNY

04/08/2021 Online Meeting
7:00 PM
An Unconscious Revolution: Psychoanalysis and Transcultural Reasoning in Republican China
Howard Chiang, University of California, Davis

Discussant: Emily Baum, University of California, Irvine