China Beatniks

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It’s become a tradition for China Beat contributors and friends of the blog to assemble at the Association for Asian Studies annual meeting (as well as at the American Historical Association’s meeting) for a “bloggers’ breakfast” that provides China Beatniks the chance to get together and meet face-to-face — often for the first time, since so much of our business is conducted via e-mail. Last Saturday morning, we gathered at a Starbucks near the AAS conference site and talked about China, writing, and many other topics over coffee and pastries. A couple of photos from the AAS 2010 bloggers’ breakfast:


Pictured (clockwise beginning at lower center): Susan McEachern (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers), Jeff Wasserstrom (UC Irvine), Samuel Liang (University of Manchester), Jeff Gammage (The Philadelphia Inquirer), Daniel Little (University of Michigan, Dearborn), Stephen MacKinnon (Arizona State University), and Rebecca MacKinnon (RConversation)

P3270033Pictured (L-R): Rebecca MacKinnon, Susan McEachern, Jeff Wasserstrom, Stephen MacKinnon, Samuel Liang, Daniel Little


1. On December 14-15, the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California will be holding a “Colloquium on China Media Studies” (RSVP required). For those not able to attend, the event will be live-streamed at the above link, beginning at noon PST on December 14.

2. Ken Pomeranz will be giving two talks in Japan next week:

December 16, 2009: Kyoto University. Participant in the “Changing Nature of ‘Nature’: New Perspectives in Transdisciplinary Field Science” conference sponsored by the Global Center of Excellence on a Sustainable Humanssphere.

December 18, 2009: Tokyo University. “Land rights and long-run Development patterns: the Lower Yangzi in comparative perspective.”

3. Looking ahead to the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, to be held in San Diego January 7-10, 2010, we’ve gone through the meeting program and identified sessions that would be of particular interest to China-focused conference-goers:

Thursday, January 7:
“The Mandate of Heaven at the Local Level in Imperial China.”
“China’s Influence in Southeast Asia during the Cold War and Its Reflections in Today’s History Education”

Friday, January 8:
“Inventing China’s ‘Inseparable Parts’: Borderland Incorporation from Tibet to Taiwan in the Twentieth Century”
“Hidden Treasure: Literature as Historical Source”
“Globalizing the Middle Ages”
“Drugs in Chains: The Illicit Commodity in World History”
“Rethinking World History: A Roundtable”
“Domestic and Foreign Policy during the Cultural Revolution”

Saturday, January 9:
“Gender, Sex, and Slavery in East Asia”
“Carnal Encounters at the Edge of Sinophone Culture”
“‘Crossing the Beach’ in Southeast and East Asia: Redefining Sovereignty, Social Mobility, Vassalage, and Resistance, 1513-1777”
“Berlin, Taiwan, and Guantánamo: Cold War Islands of the ‘New’ New Cold War History”
“New Histories of Rice”
“The Political Economy of Chinese Development and Western Relations, 1940-80”
“Reconstruction beyond Black and White”
“Dissemination of Western Knowledge and Ideology in Late Imperial and Modern China”
“Construction and Reconstruction of Chinese Concepts of Self-Identity and Others at Four Historical Moments”

Sunday, January 10:
“Teaching U.S. History Abroad: Australia, China, Germany, Tunisia, Russia”
“Control, Discipline, and Order in Modern China”
“Mexico’s Chinese: Disputed Identities and Claims of Belonging”
“Bringing Peace and Life out of Chaos and Death: Christians in Republican China”
“Whither China: Intellectual Discourses on the Problems of the Urban and the Rural in 1910-40s China”

4. We’re hoping to see lots of China Beatniks at the 2010 annual meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, to be held March 25-28 in Philadelphia.

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China Beat has just celebrated its one-year anniversary, and while a few of you have been with us since the beginning, the majority of our readers have tuned in somewhere along the way. For that reason, we thought it might be worth a little recap of who China Beat is and what we are about. In the spirit of brevity (of sorts), let’s do it as a top-five list…

1. China Beat is based in the U.S. (in Irvine, California, specifically) and while many of our contributors also hail from the United States, we also regularly publish pieces by writers based in China (like Zhang Lijia’s discussion of China’s death penalty), Australia (such as Geremie Barme’s interview about the torch relay), Taiwan (see Paul Katz’s regular blogging for “Tales from Taiwan”), Vietnam (see, for instance, Caroline Finlay’s piece on Vietnamese protests of the torch relay), Japan (such as James Farrer’s analysis of Japanese media coverage of the Olympics) , Canada (like David Luesink on the similarities between the Olympic preparations in Beijing and Vancouver) , New Zealand (like Paola Voici’s piece on “Big and Small Nationalisms”), Britain (Rob Gifford on Beijing architecture), and Israel (Shakhar Rahav’s piece on Olympic celebrations in Israel).

2. Uniquely for a blog, we draw on a wide and ever-changing group of contributors that range in background and expertise. We have published pieces by academics from graduate students in their first few years of study (for instance, Xia Shi, who wrote about the history of the Terracotta warriors) to university professors (the co-founders of the blog, Jeffrey Wasserstrom and Ken Pomeranz, are both faculty members in the history department at the University of California, Irvine) to the chancellor of a university (Daniel Little at University of Michigan-Dearborn, who wrote memorials for two scholars who passed away this year, Charles Tilly and Bill Skinner). We also regularly incorporate the works of journalists (such as James Miles on the Tibet riots), non-fiction writers (like Peter Hessler), and even a mystery novelist.

3. While we run a lot of book reviews and reflections on media coverage of China, we have also published historical pieces (see Ed Jocelyn’s narration of the late General Xiao Ke’s life), book excerpts (such as a selection from Robert Kapp’s foreword to the reprint of Graham Peck’s Two Kinds of Time), to movie reviews (like Angilee Shah’s report on a documentary about the school collapses in Sichuan or Matthew Johnson’s analysis of Lust, Caution), environmental writing (like Alex Pasternack on the new train to Tibet), and cultural analysis (such as Charles Hayford’s reflections on Wikipedia and Chinese history, Micki McCoy and Kelly Hammond’s discussion of a Pepsi commercial filmed in a Xinjiang sports stadium, and Hongmei Li’s examination of Chinese femininity and gender expectations).

4. While we’re definitely heavy on the print format, contributor (and Stanford prof) Tom Mullaney has also been experimenting with podcasts under the feature “China on My Mind.”

5. As those of you who’ve been reading regularly have already heard (and heard, and heard…!), we’ve got a book based on the blog coming out in March, China in 2008: A Year of Great Significance (if you follow that link, you’ll find that Amazon appears to be listing the hardcover price for the paperback edition….It’s $26.95 from Rowman & Littlefield). However, one of the things we haven’t told you yet is that Jonathan Spence is writing the foreword for the book–yet one more thing about the book that has us looking forward to sharing it with you!

A group of China Beat contributors will be in Beijing this weekend for the Beijing Forum and other events. Jeff Wasserstrom, Ken Pomeranz, Susan Brownell, and Yong Chen will all be speaking at the Forum, which is an annual event that brings together scholars from around the world.

In addition, Jeff Wasserstrom will be making a presentation to the Foreign Correspondents Club of China on “Tales of Two Cities: Public Participation in Urban Politics in Beijing and Shanghai” at 10 a.m. on Monday, November 10. Admission for non-members is 50 RMB. More details are available here (look on the right-hand side for upcoming events).

Ken Pomeranz will be giving a talk at Tsinghua University on Monday, November 10 at 7:20 p.m. at the 图书馆报告厅 (details available here).