Last Friday I took my Modern Chinese History students on their first field trip in Shanghai. Originally I meant to start at the Astor House Hotel just north of the Garden Bridge. Yet when we reached the Bund, I made a sudden change in plans and took them to the new Waldorf Astoria instead. We ended up going on an unplanned tour of the Waldorf Astoria, Shanghai's newest elite hotel. Guided by a young 20-year old Chinese hotel clerk, we toured the hotel, taking in the ballroom, library, several fancy restaurants, and the famous Long Bar. Sometimes the best part of these field trips is what happens outside your plans.Read More
A visit to the archive of Mr. Liu Debao, a Shanghainese collector of Mao era films and postersRead More
Last fall, at the end of the Dartmouth in Beijing FSP program, my students delivered several outstanding presentations on the history and contemporary society of Beijing. I am putting these online so that others may benefit from them. The file size is a problem, since these are all nearly one-hour presentations, so I've compressed this one in mp4 form, hence the fairly low quality. If anybody has an idea for doing it better, let me know. This presentation is about the Hutong neighborhoods of Beijing and what is and can be done to preserve them.
A week of touring old historic sites and visiting rock clubs and festivals in Beijing...Read More
If you want to do a day-hike on the Great Wall, the best place in my reckoning is Simatai to Jinshanling (or vice versa). This is the trip I chose for our Dartmouth in Beijing program, which I am now running.Read More
This review was just published on MCLC. I am using Dong Yue's book for my course. It is the best single publication on Republican era Beijing, which compared with Shanghai has received precious little attention.Read More
For several years now, a former classmate of mine from Dartmouth College named David Spindler ('89) has been conducting fieldwork and scholarly research on the history of the Great Wall. Specifically, his interest is in the walls built in the areas north of Beijing during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in order to protect the capital from Mongol raids.Read More
Here's my next installment: a review I wrote back in grad school (with slight revisions for this site) on what I consider to be one of the best studies of pre-Liberation Shanghai done by any scholar. Fred Wakeman sadly passed away not long ago. An homage, long overdue, to this outstanding historian and person is in the works.Read More
Unfortunately, I did not get to know Professor de Bary that well while at Columbia. I didn't take any courses with him, and my only real exposure to him was through the course that I precepted for him in 1994. Yet he has left an indelible imprint on my own teaching philosophy and methodology.Read More
In my experience, the Mandarin word laowai, which literally means "old outsider," does not in fact mean foreigner in the strict sense. A much more accurate translation for this term would be "Caucasian." Japanese and Koreans are rarely if ever referred to in China as laowai, and neither are foreign-born Chinese. Nor are people of African descent.Read More
Mark Schatzker, a travel journalist, has posted two blogs (April 4 and 5) on a hike on the Great Wall with David Spindler on his 80 Days blogsite for Conde Nast Traveler. In the process, he also recounts some of the knowledge that David has accumulated over years of research on how the Ming Wall worked and whether or not it kept the Mongols at bay.
I also remind readers that I have a few blogs and photos of David and the Wall as well. See my Great Wall journal. I promise to add more soon. We're also nearing completion of a documentary film featuring David hiking on and telling stories about the Great Wall. If anybody is interested in learning more about this film, please write me at email@example.com.
This is a post I put up on the H-ASIA forum today, after a pair of scholars brought up the issue of underrepresentation of Chinese scholars in Western academia, in this case, Asian Studies.Read More
I recently read a novel, written by the Chinese author Zhang Henshui, called _The Shanghai Express_. The original title in Chinese is pinghu tongche 平滬通車. The plot is fairly sentimental, and for that matter, implausible. I won't give away the story, but suffice it to say that a wealthy Beiping banker (Beiping was the name used for Beijing after Nanjing became the national capital in 1927) falls for a beautiful young southern woman while traveling on a train from Beiping to Shanghai. What made this such a great read was the author'seye for detail.Read More
Will China eventually become a democratic country? How long would this take? These are two questions often in the minds of Western journalists in China. In a recent podcast interview with China Digital Times, New York Times journalist Howard French was asked what question he would most like to ask Hu Jintao if he was granted an interview. He responded that he would ask him about China's democratic future.Read More
I've written a review of the Great Wall exhibit sponsored by the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, which has shifted over to Melbourne. Here is a link to the review, published by the online journal reCollections.
He's back. The man who inspired a witchhunt last August for his controversial blogsite about shagging in Shanghai. We know him as China Bounder. If you believe his story, he is a British Caucasian in his 30s and a former (if not current) English teacher in Shanghai. If you're somewhat more susceptible to rumors and innuendo, he is in fact a team of clever, mischievous blogsters making it up as they go along (or maybe even a team of monkeys relentlessly pounding on the keyboard?). I for one don't believe that tripe for a minute. In my humble, unenlightened opinion, this guy is real, and so are his stories.Read More