JJ's show opened on Sept 6 and I was there to witness his performance piece called "water". This involved the projection of several historical photos of famous Chinese political figures, including of course Chairman Mao, on a blank wall while JJ used water and a large brush to paint images on the wall. These images faded along with the projections and were then written over or juxtaposed with each other to form a watery impression of recent Chinese history. He used water as a motif throughout the performance, painting waves and also projecting images of waves on the wall along with the historic figures.Read More
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
The other day I had the pleasure to lead a tour of the Heart of the French Concession for a group of around 40 people who comprised the German-Chinese Graduate School of Global Politics in Shanghai. I was expecting a group of Germans and was surprised when the great majority of students in the group were PRC Chinese. I had not given a tour of the Concession to a Chinese audience before. Would they be as interested in the history of this quarter?Read More
I thought Saturday was a busy day, and it was (see my previous blog for details), but Tuesday was just as big. Fortunately I was feeling much better, and the weather was fantastic. Spring has finally come to Shanghai and it was time to get out and see the flowers blooming in the parks and gardens of this great city.Read More
Yesterday I took my NYU Modern Chinese History students on a tour of the Heart of the Old French Concession. Here are some of the highlights:Read More
I was very pleased to receive a message today from my publisher with a PDF file of a highly favorable and attentive review of Shanghai's Dancing World. The review was published in the most recent issue of the American Historical Review. Please click here to download the PDF file of the review. The reviewer is Xiaoqun Xu of Christopher Newport University.
Confucius says, "Isn't it wonderful to receive old friends from afar?" The past few days have been filled with visits from old friends and colleagues from abroad. First James Farrer, my colleague and dear friend, and my co-conspirator in the writing of our new book Shanghai Nightscapes, who teaches sociology at Sophia University, and his wife Gracia, who also teaches sociology at Waseda University, and their daughter Sage flew over here from Tokyo where they live and work.Read 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