The PRC at 60: Lecture Series – October & November 2009

This commemorative lecture series marks the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the PRC. Each lecture will examine a different aspect of China. This is part of a wider programme of activities marking this anniversary.

`How China`s Wartime Past is Changing its Present – and Future`

Wed 7th October: Professor Rana Mitter, University of Oxford:

“China has always drawn on its past to draw lessons for the contemporary political scene. We`ve been transfixed by the Olympics, but China is changing and opening to the world in a whole variety of other new and often unexpected ways.

What does the new interest in wartime history in China mean for its new status as a global power? Using a combination of historical analysis of wartime China and an assessment of China`s future goals in domestic and foreign policy, the talk will give a new insight into ways to rethink how China operates as a global power in the 21st century.”

Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at Oxford University. His most recent book is Modern China: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2008). He also regularly presents the arts and ideas show ‘Night Waves’ on Radio 3, and his writing and reviews have appeared in publications including the Financial Times, London Review of Books, and History Today.

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“The 1950s in China: New Wine in Old Bottles?”

Wed 14th October, Professor Paul Bailey, University of Edinburgh

This talk will explore the nature of the early People`s Republic, and the Chinese Communist Party`s attempt to `remake` Chinese society. At the same time, it will ask to what extent political, economic and cultural developments in the early 1950s represented a continuation of long-term trends first observed during the period of Nationalist (Guomindang) rule before 1949.

Paul Bailey is Professor of Modern Chinese History in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. His current research interests are in the fields of gender, educational and social history of modern China. His latest book, Gender and Education in China (RoutledgeCurzon, 2007), explores the beginnings of public schooling for girls in early twentieth century China. He is currently writing a study of Chinese workers in France during World War One, entitled The Sino-French Connection: A Sociocultural History of Chinese Labour in WW1 France. He has also begun a new research project on crime, gender and modern state-building in twentieth-century China, while future writing projects include two narrative and analytical histories: Women and Gender in Twentieth Century China and A History of Vietnam.

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“Opening Pandora`s Box: the Cultural Revolution and its repercussions on the ‘Reform and Opening Period’ of the 1980s”.

Wed 21st October, Professor Natascha Gentz, University of Edinburgh

The Cultural Revolution (1966-76) has been described as a period of `ten chaotic years`. All governmental efforts after the death of Mao Zedong aimed at reuniting society and encouraging contribution to the new opening and reform policy. The lecture will discuss the intricacies involved in this process and why the Cultural Revolution still poses problems for Chinese society today.

Natascha Gentz is Professor of Chinese Studies in the School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Confucius Institute for Scotland in the University of Edinburgh. Her publications include a monograph on the history Chinese journalism and two edited volumes, on transcultural knowledge transfer in Late Qing China, and on how global media are shaping cultural identities. She has also published a book on contemporary Chinese historical drama as well as dozens of articles on Late Qing and contemporary Chinese drama, literature and media. She has also translated a novel and two volumes of short stories by the Chinese nobel laureate Gao Xingjian.

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“The China Challenge: Models, Visions and Global Futures”

Thurs 29th October,Professor Jane Duckett, University of Glasgow

China`s economic power and global influence have led commentators to suggest that it has a model of development and modernity that will challenge the West`s. This lecture looks at the models that China has embraced since 1949 and considers both their origins and very different economic and social outcomes. It argues that having rejected both Maoism and neoliberalism, China may now be at an important crossroads. As it reconsiders its development strategy its government has the opportunity to forge a new model. But will it have the vision and will to overcome formidable opposition?

Jane Duckett is Professor of Chinese and Comparative Politics in the Department of Politics at the University of Glasgow. She studied modern Chinese at Leeds University in the 1980s, and Chinese politics at SOAS, University of London, in the early 1990s. She first lived in China in 1984 and has travelled widely there. Her early work on the Chinese state under market reform included a book-length study, The Entrepreneurial State in China (Routledge 1998). Jane also (with Bill Miller) made a comparative study of public attitudes to economic openness in East Asia and Eastern Europe, published as The Open Economy and its Enemies (Cambridge, 2006). Her current research is concerned with China’s social and health policy and politics. She is now completing two books, The Chinese State`s Retreat from Health, and (with Beatriz Carrillo) China`s Changing Welfare Mix.

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“China’s Rise in Africa”.

Wed 4th November, Professor Ian Taylor, University of St Andrews

China`s rise in Africa is arguably the most momentous development on the continent since the end of the Cold War. China is now Africa’s second most important bilateral trading partner, behind only the United States, with Sino-African trade hitting over $100 billion in 2008 (up from $5 billion in 1997). Yet this rise has been met with some criticism in the West and in Africa. This lecture seeks to discuss whether such scepticism is wholly justified.

Ian Taylor is Professor in International Relations at the University of St. Andrews’ School of International Relations and a Professor Extraordinary in Political Science at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa. He is also Honorary Professor in the Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University, China and Joint Professor in the Centre for European Studies, Renmin University of China. He is interested primarily in Africa`s political economy and its international relations and in Chinese foreign policy. These two strands come together in an extensive body of work, conducted since 1994, on China`s emerging relationships with Africa. Ian Taylor’s most recent books include China’s New Role in Africa (2009) and China and Africa: Engagement and Compromise (London Routledge, 2006).

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“Understanding China’s Economic Transformation”.

Wed 11th November, Dr Felix Boecking, University of Edinburgh

In the last three decades, the People’s Republic of China has experienced a successful market transition with impressively high GDP growth rates. As average incomes have risen dramatically, hundreds of millions of Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty. Equally important is China’s new position as a key player in today’s world economy. However, the increased social inequality and environmental depredation associated with economic reforms in the PRC raise the question of their sustainability. In this talk, Dr Boecking will trace some of the key features of China’s economic development since 1978, and consider the question of China’s economic future.

Felix Boecking is Lecturer in Modern Chinese Economic and Political History in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. His research interests focus on China’s political economy in its historical context, as well as material culture and consumption in 20th-century China. Felix’s PhD thesis “Tariffs, Power, Nationalism and Modernity: Fiscal Policy in Guomindang-Controlled China 1927-1941” fundamentally challenged the widespread idea that the key to the Communist seizure of power in China lies in the incompetence of the Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai-shek (1927-1949) by demonstrating the strength of Nationalist state-building in the crucial area of taxation and fiscal policy.

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VENUE: Raeburn Room, Old College, University of Edinburgh, South Bridge, Edinburgh, EH8 9YL

TIMING: 6pm-7.30pm followed by drinks reception

BOOKING: There is no charge for admission but places must be booked in advance. Please use the online booking system to request places. A confirmation email will be sent to acknowledge your booking.