New Perspectives on the Chinese 1950s Workshop; 19-21 July 2012

New Perspectives on the Chinese 1950s Workshop

King’s Manor, University of York

19-21 July 2012

This workshop has been funded by the British Inter-University China Centre (AHRC) through the Chinese 1950s Network. The network explores new approaches China’s domestic and international history in this period, it is hosted at the University of York and partnered with East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai.

The aim of the workshop is to promote the sharing of ideas on historical issues and primary source work, the establishment of a network of researchers and to explore the potential for future collaborative work.

PLEASE NOTE:  For logistical reasons this is an invitation-only event, panel details are for information only

 Friday 19th July

Panel 1 – Writing the 1950s (culture, society, knowledge and history) Chair: Karl Gerth

Felix Wemheuer (University of Vienna), How to Write a People’s History of 1950s: A Thought Experiment

Jennifer E. Altehenger (King’s College London), Finding the Right Words: Encyclopedic dictionaries, self-help guides, and the politics of knowledge in China, 1949-1956.

Panel 2 – Individuals and Institutions, Chair: Julia Lovell

Xiaobing Tang (University of Michigan), The Idea of Socialist Art in the 1950s.

Christine Vidal (Université Lille III), From Beijing to Hangzhou: Song Yunbin and his experience of united front work (1949-1957).

Gordon Barrett (University of Bristol), Transnational Contacts and Foreign Policy: the CCP, Chinese Scientists, and the World Federation of Workers, 1947-1966

 Saturday 20th July

Panel 3 – The Economy and Society, Chair: Tehyun Ma

Robert Cliver (Humboldt State University), Surviving Socialism: Private Industry and the Transition to Socialism in China

Felix Boecking (University of Edinburgh), Dismal scientists among the hundred flowers: Chinese economists in the 1950s

Benno Weiner (Appalachian State University, NC), High Tide on the High Plateau: The United Front and Pastoral Collectivization in Northeast Tibet (Amdo), 1955-1956

Keynote by Yang Kuisong (East China Normal University/Peking University) on the state of the field and future directions

Panel 4 – China and Japan in the 1950s, Chair: Chris Hess

Amy King (Australian National University), Dealing with the ‘Enemy’: Overseas Japanese in the Soviet Union and People’s Republic of China, 1945-1956

Barak Kushner (University of Cambridge), The Dissolution of the Japanese Empire and the Struggle for Legitimacy in Postwar East Asia, 1945–1965

 Sunday 21st July

Panel 5 – China’s Urban 1950s, Chair: Jon Howlett

Karl Gerth (University California, San Diego), Compromising with Consumerism in

Socialist China: Transnational Flows and Internal Tensions in ‘Socialist Advertising’

Christian Hess (Sophia University), Living the socialist high life? Colonial legacies and the making of urban socialism in Dalian, 1945-1955

Jiang Jin (East China Normal University), Urbanism vs. Communism? Best-Seller theatres in Early PRC Shanghai

Introducing Dr Nicola Horsburgh

NH profileI was extremely fortunate to receive a BICC studentship for my MPhil and DPhil studies at the University of Oxford – this support enabled me to be in the position I am today, as a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow, working on China and nuclear weapons issues. I’m proud to be part of the BICC network – many of the researchers have become close friends, and I have immense respect for the senior academics that have helmed the BICC. As part of this network, in 2011, I was able to participate in the China’s Futures seminar organised by Professor William Callahan, as well as the China: Innovation and Invention workshop, which I co-organised with Astrid Nordin. Both these collaborations resulted in publications: a China Information article on Chinese nuclear strategy, and together with Astrid Nordin and Professor Shaun Breslin, a co-edited volume titled Chinese Politics and International Relations: Innovation and Invention, coming out with Routledge this year.

I started my studentship with no prior background on China or the language, so the BICC proved crucial in laying the intellectual groundwork and in introducing me to the scholarly community, allowing me to find my feet in the China field. Of course, the financial support mattered a great deal too. As a result of BICC funding, I was able to conduct extensive fieldwork abroad during my doctoral studies, notably as a visiting scholar at the Arms Control Program at Tsinghua University in Beijing for the 2010-11 academic year, and at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in the US in spring 2009 and winter 2011. This fieldwork was essential since the nature of my doctoral research was somewhat sensitive: nuclear weapons. My DPhil, supervised by Professor Rosemary Foot, was defended with no revisions in March 2012. The thesis explored China’s role in global nuclear politics since 1949. One of my major findings was that Maoist China shaped global nuclear politics to a far greater degree than was previously understood. The thesis has since been turned into a manuscript and is currently under review for publication.

As a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow based at Oxford, I continue my interest in China and nuclear issues. My three year research project examines what it means to be a responsible nuclear armed state, with a particular emphasis on China. Overall, the project is more conceptual and contemporary than my doctoral research. I also have a number of side projects on the go. I contribute to the 21st Century Concerts of Power project led by Professor Andrew Hurrell at Oxford, focusing on global governance related to nuclear weapons, as well as Chinese conceptions of great power cooperation. I am also co-writing, together with Kate Sullivan at Oxford, an article on Chinese and Indian approaches to nuclear restraint. In another project, with Amy King of Australia National University, I survey the use of new Chinese sources in the study of China in the International Relations field.

My research also has an impact outside academia. In 2011, I designed and taught a graduate course on Chinese nuclear weapons policy at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies for students seeking government careers and visiting diplomats working in nuclear-related policy areas. More recently, in January and March 2013, I took part in the FCO sponsored UK-China nuclear dialogue organised by King’s College London and Renmin University. Finally, this summer, I have been invited to attend the EU Consortium on Nonproliferation in Brussels as well as the ‘Towards global nuclear order: deterrence, assurance and reductions’ conference at Wilton Park in the UK.

I wouldn’t have been able to do any of the above without the sustained support I received from the BICC for five years. Support that has been not just financial, but also academic and social, rooting me in the China and International Relations academic fields as well as policy communities in the UK, EU, US and China.

Dying for development: new research on pollution, illness and citizens’ agency in China

‘Dying for Development: Pollution, Illness and the Limits of Citizens’ Agency in China’ is a newly-published special issue of the journal China Quarterly, edited by BICC researcher Anna Lora-Wainwright. The introduction is available online, as his her article, “The Inadequate Life: Rural Industrial Pollution and Lay Epidemiology in China”.

Oxford: Philippe Régnier talk at 2.15 pm, Monday 20 May

Philippe Régnier

Professor, SIDGS, University of Ottawa, Canada

will speak on

“EU cooperation in science & technology with China and India:

recent trends and shifting paradigms”

Phillipe Regnier

Prof Regnier is the co-author of the 2012 independent report to the EU Commission reviewing the EU-India cooperation agreement in science and technology (2007-11)

All welcome

2.15 pm, Monday 20 May

Room 205, Institute for Chinese Studies, Walton Street, University of Oxford

For more information, contact:

The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France: Manchester 8-9 July 2013

Yuanmingyuan workshop - Manchester - 8-9th July‘The Yuanmingyuan in Britain and France: Representations of the ‘Summer Palace’ in the West’

A workshop organised by the Centre for Museology and funded by the Centre for Chinese Studies

In October 1860, at the culmination of the Second Opium War, British and French troops looted, and then burnt, the imperial buildings in the Yuanmin­gyuan (or ‘Summer Palace’) in the north of Beijing. Over a million imperial ob­jects are estimated to have been taken from the site: many of these are now scattered around the world, in private collections and public museums.

This two–day workshop at The University of Manchester, 8th-9th July 2013, will explore the ways in which objects from the Yuan­mingyuan have been represented in the West. It will be the first such event to combine approaches from specialists in the history of collecting with the views of curators of Yuanmingyuan objects.

Confirmed speakers include James Hevia (Chicago), Greg Thomas (Hong Kong), Nick Pearce (Glasgow), Vincent Droguet (Château of Fontainebleau).

For further details contact:

There is no charge for attendance but numbers are limited. To secure a place contact:

Callahan shows ‘China Shadows’ film at UQ

This seminar offers a film screening followed by a discussion with the film’s director – Prof. William A Callahan (University of Manchester).

After decades of Cold War hostility, in the late 1970s people from the US and its allies started going to China – again. ‘China Shadows(28 min.) presents memories of these first encounters, raising questions of where is China, what is China, and who is Chinese.

These interviews with people from Thailand, the US, Taiwan, Belarus, England and India form the basis of a growing archive of first encounters with Otherness – or more to the point, they record diverse experiences of what it means to be the Other in China.

Borders of Knowledge network update

In March 2012, William A. Callahan went to China to set up the research network. He met with the network partner Prof. ZHANG Xiaojin (Tsinghua) to organise the logistics for the research network.

Dr WU Qiang (Tsinghua) came to Manchester for a one month (June-July 2012) research visit; he met with researchers and PhD students who are studying civil society and social movements in China and Europe.

Callahan went on fieldwork visits to India (3-18 February 2013) and China (5-15 March 2013). He met with academics and public intellectuals in both countries, and in India is  gave talks at network partner Jindal School of International Affairs, O.P. Jindal Global University, as well as at the Institute for Chinese Studies and the Observer Research Foundation think tank.

The network workshop will be held in Shanghai in June 2013.

‘Borders of Migration’ research network progress update

As part of the AHRC-funded research network `Borders of migration’, Elena Barabantseva spent ten days (16-27 June 2012) in Nanning, Guangxi. During this period she established contacts with the external partners, conducted preliminary research, discussed and made arrangements for future fieldwork and research workshop. In particular, Elena met with the colleagues at the Guangxi University for Nationalities and at the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences. The meetings were dedicated to the discussion of anticipated fieldwork, as well as to the planning of the research workshop. In addition to the meetings with the researchers, Elena met with the representatives of the following non-governmental organisations working in the border area of Guangxi: All-China Women’s Federation, World Vision, and Action Aid. During this visit Elena conducted library-based research, and collected Chinese academic materials on the relevant research issues.


On 22 April 2013 Antonia Chao gave a research seminar at Manchester (co-hosted by the Centre for Chinese Studies and Anthropology Department) entitled ‘Encountering Sexual Aliens: State Sovereignty and the Heteronormative Mechanism at Work on the Margins of Taiwan’. Elena and Antonia also met for a research network’s workshop planning meeting. The research network’s bi-lingual workshop entitled ‘Marriage Migration and Citizenship Issues: Perspectives from Mainland China and Taiwan’ will take place at Tunghai University (Taiwan) on 2-4 January 2014.


In March-April 2013 Wu Guofu and Yang Jinghua (Guangxi University for Nationalities) conducted a fieldwork study into cross-border migration issues between China and Vietnam in two Yao villages in Ningming county on Sino-Vietnamese border, and the first findings of this research will be presented by Wu Guofu and Elena Barabanseva at the ICAS 8 conference in Macao in June 2013. Elena will also talk about this research at the workshop on ‘Southeast Asia and Regional Security: New Forms of Chinese Geopolitics and the US Asian Pivot’ at SOAS on 7 June 2013.