I didn’t get to any China-specific panels at the AAS, but the good folks at China Beat have a few panel summaries worth taking a look at. You can find some more at Twitter, but not much. Aside from the primitive facilities — it was $600 to get internet service for a panel presentation, we were told; it was $13/day for hotel room internet, and there wasn’t any wireless in the hotel or convention center — we just don’t have a critical mass of tweeting Asianists yet. Just a couple that I’ve found. I did have a good time meeting Javier Cha, though, the first time I’ve met with someone I met on Twitter!
Chinabeat has put together some pretty good links that outline many of the festivities going on for the big 60th anniversary. The following link outlines 10 of the biggest and strangest festivities. Personally, I am most surprised by New York’s decision to illuminate the Empire State Building with red and yellow. I especially found this interesting considering the New York Times’ coverage of this event; typical for the New York Times, the coverage was less than exuberant. Another piece on Chinabeat argues that the festivities in Beijing are meant to showcase the military might of the current regime; the piece also goes on to talk about the future of Sino-US relations in light of China’s growing influence. Most of the pictures about the event certainly seem to imply that most of the events, parades, and even dance routines are performed by or about the military. Then again, I believe that the festivities are more than that: it seems that the 60th anniversary celebrations are meant to be an interim display of China’s ability to host and create large scale events between the Beijing Olympics and the upcoming 2010 Shanghai World’s Fair. In a recent lecture about his new book Global Shanghai: 1850-2010 , Jeff Wasserstrom tied the Beijing opening ceremonies and the Shanghai World’s Fair fervor to the energy and seemingly limitless expense the PRC currently put towards the 60th anniversary (Wasserstrom has written a lot about the Olympics and 2010 Expo connection; one that slightly also mentions the 60th anniversary can be read here). In general, what Wasserstrom argued was that the Olympics weren’t the pinnacle of China’s ability to top the rest of the world in hosting world events, it was just one example of many to come. And considering the importance of 2009 to the PRC’s legitimacy, it makes sense that this national event (as opposed to the other international events) would serve as another example of China’s growth, power, and national fervor.
Other than Chinabeat, I also found a few other articles about the 60th anniversary celebration worth looking at. The following pictoral essays from the Boston Globe seen here and from the New York Times, seen here. Both of course have fantastic pictoral representations of the event, though I find the one at the Boston Globe more creative. Similarly, the New York Times have a series of articles meant to put the 60th anniversary into perspective, such as this piece on the civil war in Changchun and this more interesting editorial compilation about China’s economic future.
Speaking of big events, Rio de Janeiro recently won the bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. It will be the first South American city to host the Olympics, making its significance to Brazil similar to that of China in 2008. I look forward to seeing Brazil’s approach to the Olympics (and the world’s approach to Brazil) develop over the next few years.
If anyone has any other interesting links or information about the 60th anniversary, please post them!
In honor of the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on October 1st, my friend Carsey Yee has sent another video: The Two Chinese Characters do the March of the Volunteers (twice, once with English subtitles). I was a bit surprised to learn that the song predates the PRC by over ten years, that the author was arrested and the song banned for a time (Can anyone think of another case where a national anthem was banned without a regime change taking place?), and, of course, the lyrics changed during the Cultural Revolution.
I suppose it makes sense: the history of the song really is the history of China.
I have, as it turns out, very little to say that I didn’t say five years ago, but I’ll reproduce it under the fold. Reading this year’s crop of remembrances, and Philip Cunningham’s first-person history, I don’t think my views have changed all that much, except that I see the movement more in the context of the decades before — periodic reformist movements which invariably met with repression whether or not the reforms were eventually pursued — and it’s much less shocking to me now than it was then. Still tragic. And the history since has been, by comparison, oddly quiet.
If you understand Japanese, are in Tokyo, and interested in the history of the foreign concessions of China, you may find a conference being held at Waseda of interest that has a panel of talks on media in the foreign concessions. See this posting over at Frog in a Well Japan for more.
If you will forgive the promotion, this may be of interest to other Frogs…
Cambridge University’s humanities centre (CRASSH) recently received funding for a two-year network on China, on the theme of modernity. Most of the scholars involved are approaching this from the field of comparative literature, but also there are historians and translation scholars. There will be conferences in Cambridge (this May), Yale (later this year) and Tsinghua (2009).
Some information is online here about the May conference http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/2007-8/chinaconference.html.
Yes, on September 28th Taiwan will be celebrating the 2,557th birthday of Confucius. The date may be a bit off (he is getting a bit forgetful in his old age), but to still be celebrated after all these years is an accomplishment. As in the past there will be a direct descendant to officiate, they will play the ancient music, and an offering of food will be made. (When I was there it was a dead ox carried by two rather irate Taiwanese laborers) The high point of the ritual is the dance, done by young male students carrying feathers.
The boys practice and perform the dance to show their sincere respect for Chinese tradition and the teachings of Confucius. Also, if you get a piece of one of the feathers it is supposed to be good luck on your college entrance exams. When I was there a scrum developed after the ritual as various youngsters tried to get bits of feather, I assume being one of the dancers puts you in a good opening position.
The 6th Asian History Carnival will be hosted at Frog in a Well – Korea on August 8th! We are looking for good posts on Asian history posted around the internet in the past month or two. For more details, check out the Asian History Carnival homepage.
Please nominate postings for the carnival here. If you use del.icio.us to tag your links, another way you can nominate postings is to simply tag them “ahcarnival” (http://del.icio.us/tag/ahcarnival/) and I’ll look through the tagged postings when the time comes. The deadline for nominations is August 7th.
It’s been a good week for archaeology in the news, it seems:
When President Bush cited Taiwan as a model for mainland China, though he wasn’t quite as aggressive as the headlines suggest, he raised some interesting historical specters: what if the Nationalists hadn’t lost China? Does the success of Taiwan validate the socialist Republicanism (and stages of political development) of Sun Yat-sen? And, of course, is Taiwan’s model of transition from single-party developmental state to multi-party (if still somewhat immature) democracy with flourishing high-value economy something that China could draw on?
Andrew Meyer, who’s been studying Taiwan and China for two decades or so has some thoughts on the plausibility of the president’s model.
This analysis, though [via Simon World] suggests that the Taiwanisation argument is in no small part wishful thinking to cover up the fact that we don’t like to admit the developmental success of (some) unfree societies.