Asia

Prof. Nu-Ahn Tran Discusses S. Vietnam Archives with UConn Today

Nu-Ahn Tran, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.In an article titled “UConn Historian: South Vietnam Archives Provide New Insights into War,” UConn Today interviews Associate Professor and UConn Humanities Institute Fellow Nu-Ahn Tran regarding the opening of South Vietnamese archives and it’s impact on her research. By utilizing official documents from the National Archives Center II in Ho Chi Minh City (previously Saigon), as well as newspapers, periodicals and other Vietnamese-language publications, Tran seeks to adjust our understanding of Vietnamese elite politics by introducing what she calls the development of “anticommunist nationalism.” Her forthcoming book, with the working title of “Disunion: Anticommunist Nationalism and the Making of the Republic of Vietnam, 1954-1963,” will explore the tenure of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem and the debates surrounding how to govern the nation. 

To read the spotlight on Professor Tran’s excellent research, please click here.

Prof. Jason Chang Interviewed for Slate Article on Coronavirus

Jason Chang, associate professor of History, University of CTOn February 4th, Jane C. Hu published an article titled “The Panic Over Chinese People Doesn’t Come From Coronavirus” in Slate. The article includes thoughts from Professor Jason Oliver Chang on the history behind the racialized thinking of Asians as disease carriers. Professor Chang is an Associate Professor of History and Asian American Studies, and Director of UConn’s Asian and Asian American Institute. To read the article, click here.

“Key Texts” In Modern Chinese Political Thought Conference

Fifteen scholars from China, Taiwan, and Europe, as well as the US, met on September 27 and 28, 2019 to discuss selected key texts written by Chinese intellectuals and political activists from the late Qing period (1890s) through the Republican period (1912-1949). The conference was held at UConn-Hartford.

 

The texts ranged from well-known works by Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao, and Mao Zedong to lesser-known writings of Yang Du and Ding Shan. The conference’s discussions were held in English and Chinese. Duan Lian, Pablo Blitstein, Wang Fansen, Gao Bo, Carl K.Y. Shaw, Wen Yu, Mara Yue Du, Axel Schneider, Gu Hongliang, Thomas Fröhlich, Li Yongjin, Shellen Wu, and Peter Zarrow gave papers, while discussants were Stephen Angle, Alexus McLeod, and Fred Lee.

 

The goals of the conference were to highlight new scholarship on the rich political theorizing of the period, and to help establish modern Chinese political thought as a field not only important in its own right but of interest to non-Sinophone scholars working on political theory, comparative politics, and global intellectual history. We collectively hope to continue to pursue these goals in the future. In terms of making modern Chinese political thought more transparent outside this sub-field, we will work on providing complete translations of key texts and, separately, introductions to them. These introductions will provide basic information on the text’s author, its context, its contents and significance, and its reception and influence. Both translations of complete texts and introductions to them should be of use to scholars and students. At the moment, we lack these scholarly tools—most of the translations we have are highly abridged or limited to a small number of political leaders (Sun Yat-sen, Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Zedong). And the monographic literature speaks mostly to specialists.

 

Papers and discussion at the UConn conference centered around such themes as materiality, utopianism, and temporality, as well as more familiar topics such as secularization, legitimacy, and rights and liberty. We did not come up with a clear definition of what constitutes a “key text” and do not want to establish a canon, but rather we hope to keep open what texts are of historical and contemporary interest. Loosely speaking, we can put key texts into one of two categories: historical importance as defined by the text’s reception and influence (at the time it was disseminated or later); and intrinsic interest as defined by the text’s originality and argumentation. This conference made no attempt to claim the texts discussed could possibly represent the spectrum of political thought in twentieth-century China, but it did include texts that represented a variety of opinion—articles and books by Kang Youwei, Zhang Zhidong, Liang Qichao, Zhang Taiyan, Yang Du, Chen Duxiu, Liang Shuming, Ding Shan, Luo Longji, and Mao Zedong.

 

Much Chinese writing of the period of course constituted adoption, adaptation, and reflections on ideas that originated in Euro-America and Japan (or via Japan). At the same time, the influence of Confucian and Buddhist ideas on particular texts was profound. In approaching key texts, it is necessary to keep in mind various authors’ particular and original interpretations of the of the questions they were asking. The afterlife of texts is also worth considering; for example, China today has seen a revival of certain texts written a hundred years ago such as writings of Kang Youwei, which interest New Confucians, and writings of Zhang Taiyan (Binglin), which interest New Left thinkers.

 

In addition to opening up the question of the exact bases of modern Chinese political thought by focusing on key texts, this conference also raised the question of what counts as “political thought” in the first place. Discussions turned to the problem of the hegemony of Western political methodologies and problems, the need to encourage more comparative work, and the advantages of interdisciplinary scholarship, especially among historians, political theorists, and philosophers.

 

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Sponsors of the conference were the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation; and UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, Humanities Institute, Department of History, Office of Global Affairs, and Department of Philosophy. Photo Credit: Jason Chang.

A Japanese Flag, 2020 Olympics, and Prof. Dudden’s Op-Ed

Professor Alexis Dudden, University of ConnecticutProfessor Alexis Dudden, Professor of Modern Japan, Korea, and International History, recently published an op-ed in The Guardian. Titled “Japan’s rising sun has a history of horror. It must be banned at the Tokyo Olympics,” Dudden argues that the Japanese rising sun flag takes part in a “collective effort to cleanse the history of imperial Japan’s aggression” during WW2 and thus also causes “intentional harm” to those who suffered under Japanese rule. Dudden highlights South Korea as a specific example and writes that it is “unsurprising that the South Korean government is first to raise objections to the flag” being waved at the 2020 Olympics.

Prof. Alexis Dudden Contributes Article to NYT

Professor Alexis Dudden, University of ConnecticutOn September 23rd, Professor Alexis Dudden published an op-ed, titled “America’s Secret History in East Asia,” in the New York Times. The article explores the history behind the history of the trade disputes between South Korean and Japanese officials and places blame in the hands of U.S. diplomats. Professor Dudden writes: “Neither South Korean nor Japanese officials point a finger at the United States for their dispute, and yet they should…the historical moment they are fighting about, more than a half-century later, was fundamentally shaped by America’s involvement. Even as it claimed to help resolve Japan’s and South Korea’s longstanding grievances with the 1965 treaty, Washington used one ally over the other out of expedience, to advance its own interests.”

To read more about the ongoing trade dispute and Washington’s past involvement, click here.

UConn Conference: Key Texts in Modern Chinese Political Thought

This Friday and Saturday, September 27-28, UConn-Hartford will be hosting the “Key Texts in Modern Chinese Political Thought: Late Qing to Republican China” conference.

The conference focuses on selected “key texts” in Chinese political thought from roughly the first half of the twentieth century.  Conference papers will analyze texts in terms of their sources and argumentation, their position in the discursive field, and their contribution to political theory.  The conference as a whole asks what counts as political theory, what political theorists might learn from China, and how to construct a larger list of key texts from China.

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Professor Peter Zarrow

Alongside Thomas Fröhlich (Universität Hamburg), Professor Peter Zarrow (UConn) has organized the conference. The conference is co-sponsored by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation and the University of Connecticut.

All are invited to attend, but space is limited, so registration is required, and the conference organizers will get back to you.  The registration webpage also links to the conference program.  Registration and program can be found here.