Insiders and Outsiders in Chinese History
No scholar in the last half-century has done more to stimulate Western interest in Chinese history than Jonathan Spence; and few, if any, have brought to life such an extraordinary range of people, themes, events and atmospheres. His 13 books, dozens of articles, and innumerable lectures have not only informed a generation of readers and listeners, but have inspired many of them to a much deeper engagement with China. In recognition of Professor Spence’s remarkable achievements, one group of those he inspired – his Ph.D. students – have organized a conference on “Insiders and Outsiders in Chinese History” to be held May 8-9, 2009 at Yale University. This conference is sponsored by the Council on East Asian Studies and the History Department at Yale University and will take place at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University, Henry R. Luce Hall, 34 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, CT.
The conference is broad in scope, but is unified by a concern with how historical actors and scholarly observers understand differences in perspective among people inside, outside, or on the edges of “Chinese society.” The specific topics, to name just a few, range from the lives of Chinese employed by Western firms as compradors, to how Chinese dealing with ethnic minority groups developed a sense of themselves as “Han Chinese”; from Chinese students who were encouraged to study in the United States while Chinese laborers were being excluded, to how doctors, scientists, and laypeople have explained qi to audiences in China and America; from Beijing police trying to “reform” troubled families to Chinese sojourners clashing with the law as they built networks across Southeast Asia. A roundtable discussion, featuring academics, writers, and business people, will examine ways of improving communication between academics and those outside of academia with an interest in China; and Harold Bloom, a long-time friend and colleague, considers how Professor Spence’s writings work to create a unique blend of academic rigor and literary appeal.
This event is FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC; all panels include time set aside for questions from the audience.
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