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The Presence of the Past in a Future-Facing China

Tuesday, May 2 // 4 PM - 5:30 PM // 2203 Social Sciences and Humanities Building (Andrews Conference Room)
When May 02, 2017
from 04:00 PM to 05:30 PM
Where 2203 Social Sciences and Humanities Building (Andrews Conference Room)
Contact Name
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"The Presence of the Past in a Future-Facing China" // Ian Johnson and Jeffrey Wasserstrom

This event will featured paired presentations by and then a conversation between acclaimed journalist Ian Johnson and widely published historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom.   

Johnson will begin by talking about a central theme in his latest book, The Souls of China, which is the revival of interest since Mao's death in Chinese religious traditions, such as Buddhism and Daoism.  Xi Jinping's China is one in which many things are futuristic--it has a space program, some of the fastest trains on earth, and so on--and yet the government has moved from rejecting to embracing some "traditional" values and texts, and many people seek meaning in old practices and beliefs.  How does all this, as well as the growth in various forms of Christianity, make sense in a country that is run by a Communist Party?  This is the question that Johnson will explore.

Wasserstrom will then speak briefly about a central theme in his new edited volume, The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China (whose contributors include Johnson), which is the tension between past and present state efforts to define "Chinese tradition" as a singular entity and fact that it is actually made up of varied strands.  He will use references to popular novels of the past and recent state spectacles, such as the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Games, to illustrate this tension and suggest ways to think about it.  

Welcome to the East Asian Studies Program

Undergraduate study of East Asia at UC Davis is not concentrated in a single department. The major draws faculty from many disciplines, including anthropology, history, sociology, economics, political science, religion, languages, and literature.

The UC Davis program recognizes that East Asian studies majors often come to the University with little or no background in Asian cultures, and that the career possibilities are exceptionally varied. To meet these two problems, the program offers a background core of basic courses in East Asian history, humanities, social sciences, and languages, plus a wide range of more advanced and specialized courses from which student and advisor tailor an individualized program of study.



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