New Publications by BICC Researchers

Modern Asian Studies image - Jon

Two BICC researchers have just published important new work.

Jon Howlett, University of York, has had an article published in Modern Asian Studies‘The British boss is gone and will never return’: Communist takeovers of British companies in Shanghai (1949–1954)


Sam Geall book front coverSam Geall, Departmental Lecturer in Human Geography of China at Oxford and BICC funded student, has edited China and the Environment: The Green Revolution

Blurb: Sixteen of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in China. A serious water pollution incident occurs once every two to three days. China’s breakneck growth causes great concern about its global environmental impacts, as others look to China as a source for possible future solutions to climate change. But how are Chinese people really coming to grips with environmental problems? This book provides access to otherwise unknown stories of environmental activism and forms the first real-life account of China and its environmental tensions.

New book: Anna Lora-Wainwright, ‘Fighting for Breath: Living Morally and Dying of Cancer in a Chinese Village’

Congratulations to BICC researcher Dr Anna Lora-Wainwright, whose new book Fighting for Breath: Living Morally and Dying of Cancer in a Chinese Village, has just been published by the University of Hawai’i Press.ALW book cover

Numerous reports of “cancer villages” have appeared in the past decade in both Chinese and Western media, highlighting the downside of China’s economic development. Less generally known is how people experience and understand cancer in areas where there is no agreement on its cause. Who or what do they blame? How do they cope with its onset? Fighting for Breath is the first ethnography to offer a bottom-up account of how rural families strive to make sense of cancer and care for sufferers. It addresses crucial areas of concern such as health, development, morality, and social change in an effort to understand what is at stake in the contemporary Chinese countryside.

Encounters with cancer are instances in which social and moral fault lines may become visible. Anna Lora-Wainwright combines powerful narratives and critical engagement with an array of scholarly debates in sociocultural and medical anthropology and in the anthropology of China. The result is a moving exploration of the social inequities endemic to post-1949 China and the enduring rural-urban divide that continues to challenge social justice in the People’s Republic. In-depth case studies present villagers’ “fight for breath” as both a physical and social struggle to reclaim a moral life, ensure family and neighborly support, and critique the state for its uneven welfare provision. Lora-Wainwright depicts their suffering as lived experience, but also as embedded in domestic economies and in the commodification of care that has placed the burden on families and individuals.

Fighting for Breath will be of interest to students, teachers, and researchers in Chinese studies, sociocultural and medical anthropology, human geography, development studies, and the social study of medicine.

China Dreams

Callahan_ChinaDreamsCoverBICC researcher and former co-Director Professor William A. Callahan has started getting reviews of his new book, China Dreams: 20 Visions of the Future, which has just been published in the US, and is available in the UK from June.

An excerpt from the book and discussion by Geremie R. Barmé can be found on the The China Story blog, and the Wall Street Journal‘s ‘China Realtime Report’ has a new piece online about it, an interview by Tom Orlik:

The China dream has become a buzzword in Beijing, with new President Xi Jinping setting out a new vision of China as a muscular global power. But Mr. Xi is not the first person to have a China dream. The mainland’s foreign-policy experts, economists, dissidents and artists are already engaged in an active and public debate on the future of their country.

Bill Callahan, a professor of international politics at the University of Manchester who this year is researching China-India relations at the National University of Singapore, has been listening in on their conversations. His new book “China Dreams: 20 Visions of the Future” lets the rest of us in on what he heard. Continue reading.

Chinese Language Course for Researchers, 2013

Places are available for the upcoming teaching sessions in the BICC Chinese Language Course for Researchers (CLCR)

The programme is open for postgraduate research students and early career academics.

Upper-intermediate Level

The next two teaching sessions will take place from 15 to 19 April 2013 and from 9 to13 Sept 2013, and will concentrate on the language exercises of listening and reading comprehension and English into Chinese and Chinese into English translation during the online learning periods (22 April to 14 June 2013). All the weekly assignments must be completed by the participants. Two “Chat Room” lessons in each “online learning session” will be arranged by the language teacher(s).

Elementary or Intermediate Level

The BICC also offers Chinese language courses at elementary and intermediate levels for researchers. These courses consist of three week-long sessions of intensive teaching in late September, early January and late March. Each teaching session will be followed by a term of online learning with feedback from the BICC language teachers. A formal language test will take place at the end of the second intensive session.

The courses will focus on reading and speaking skills, but there will be reinforcement and enhancement of these skills through the use of aural and written tasks. Students will have to spend at least two hours a day studying new materials, and revising spoken and written texts and lexis. These courses will achieve the following encourage the development of an elementary and higher level of learner autonomy in the field of Chinese language study; enable learners to put a wide range of essential communication skills into practice; allow learners to read Chinese newspapers and relevant texts with confidence.

A limited number of partial bursaries are available for participants, to defray travel, accommodation and subsistence costs.

Applicants for the Upper Intermediate Level programme should contact the programme convenor, Mr Shio-yun Kan, by 1 April 2013, via the BICC administrator, Ms Grania Pickard, at Please provide details of your doctoral topic and affiliation, name of your PhD supervisor, or your current position, as well as a brief description of your Chinese language learning experience, including how many Chinese characters (or words) that you have learnt, and how much time that you have spent in China.

Applicants for the Elementary or Intermediate Level programme in September are encouraged to make early contact with Mr Kan via the BICC administrator, Ms Grania Pickard, at Please provide details of your doctoral topic and affiliation, name of your PhD supervision, or your current position, as well as a brief description of your Chinese language learning experience, including how many Chinese characters (or words) that you have learnt, and how much time that you have spent in China.

We are likely to ask shortlisted candidates to secure a statement of support from their supervisiors.

BICC community successes

Congratulations to two BICC participants on their recent successes. Dr Tehyun Ma, currently working with the ‘Historical Photographs of China‘ project at Bristol on BICC-supported engagement activities, has been appointed to a new, permanent Lectreship in Post-1500 Chinese History at the University of Exeter. Chris Courtney, a BICC-suppored student at the Unievrsity of Manchester, and active participant in the BICC Chinese Urban Studies Network, has been elected to a Junior Research Fellowship at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge University. Chris will be working on a history of flood disasters in Central China during the Republican period.

A partial snapshot of the destinations of former BICC-trained students and Career Development fellows shows Centre alumni now in post at the University of Lancaster (Dr Astrid Nordin), University of York (Dr Jon Howlett), University of Aberdeen (Dr Isabella Jackson), University of Oxford (Dr Nicola Horsburgh; Sam Geall), Hong Kong Baptist University (Dr Catherine Ladds), Hong Kong Institute of Education (Dr Kelvin Cheung), Stanford University (Dr Regina Llamas), Rhode Island School of Design (Rachel Silberstein).

Revisiting C.E. Darwent’s Shanghai

As part of the Digital China network, BICC staff Robert Bickers, Jamie Carstairs and Tehyun Ma, have been involve in preparing a pop-up exhibiton at the Bristol City Museum (9 February) and M-Shed (10 February). For fuller details see the ‘Visualising China’ blog.

Call for papers: Workshop on Animals in Asian history, society and thought

Call for papers: BICC Workshop: Animals in Asian history, society, thought
Manchester, January 24-26 January, 2013, Manchester

While rice dominates the modern view of Asia, animals have always played a crucial in Chinese and Japanese society, history and thought. This workshop attempts to shift the perspective and discuss Asian notions of animals in their understanding and management of nature. Are animals an overlooked topic in Asian studies? What role did they actually play in Asian thought, as a resource, as a living being, and in state politics and individual lives? What was the relation between humans and animals and how can such an approach be used to understand changes in Asia society and approaches to fields of scientific and technological development? The workshop aims at historical and cross-cultural comparison. It has identified three core perspectives (1) Rites and resources; (2) Planning living beings, state management of animals and people. (3) Scholarly things, living creatures: animals in literature and art.

Scholars across the humanities, social sciences and science studies are invited to submit proposals on any topic pertaining to the study of animals in Asia. The conference will operate as a workshop (works-in-progress are welcome). Each paper will be discussed individually following a brief presentation by the author and discussion. Confirmed participants include Roel Sterckx (Cambridge, UK), Vincent Goossaert (CNRS, France), and Han Yi (IHNS, China).

Proposals must include a title and an abstract of no more then 250 words and can be submitted electronically to Participants will be notified of their selection by Dec, 15, 2013. Limited funding is available to help cover travel and lodging for participants.

Date of workshop:  January 24-26 January, 2013, Manchester

Professor Dagmar Schäfer , Chair,  Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS), School of Arts, Languages, and Cultures (SALC)

Introducing the new BICC website

Welcome! The BICC website today relaunches in its new format, combining a record of the journey undertaken so far, with details of our new and forthcoming activities across the three partners — the Universities of Bristol, Manchester and Oxford — as well as the institutions in which our community of former students and staff are now working. Based now at the University of Bristol, BICC research is taking place across the United Kingdom, from Aberdeen in the north, down to the Southwest of England, and of course in China itself. It involves a very wide range of international academic partners and forms of collaboration and interaction with different stakeholders beyond the university sector, and it continues to keep postgraduate training at the heart of its activities.