“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
— Mark Twain

Beijing from below: new light on the recent history of China’s capital – Harriet Evans on Dashalr at SOAS, LOndon 19/11/18

Posted: November 19th, 2018 | No Comments »

Beijing from below: new light on the recent history of China’s capital

Harriet Evans Seminar 2018-11-19
Harriet Evans (University of Westminster)

Date: 19 November 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 19 November 2018Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G3

 

Registration

This event is open to the public and free to attend, however registration is required. Online Registration

Abstract

This talk moves away from the mainstream history of Beijing’s transformation to focus on the disadvantaged and the poor of a small neighbourhood in the centre of the capital: the subalterns at the bottom of the social hierarchy—street vendors and pedicab cyclists, the semi-employed and the down-and-outs outside the formal organizational structures of the work unit system, sometimes living hand to mouth on the fringes of the law. Based on long term ethnographic research in Dashalar and on research in the local district archives, this paper shows how, seen from the perspective of long-term local residents of Dashalar, the history of Beijing’s transformation through the Mao era and beyond tells a story of revolution and reform that challenges many of the familiar themes of dominant chronology of the PRC.

Biography

Harriet Evans is Professor Emerita of Chinese Cultural Studies (University of Westminster) and Visiting Professor of Anthropology (LSE). She has written extensively on the politics of gender and sexuality in China, and on political posters and visual culture of the Mao era. Her Beijing from Below, an oral history of everyday life in a poor neighbourhood of central Beijing, will be published by Duke University Press. She is Chair of Trustees of the London-based The Rights Practice and is a keen advocate of initiatives to bring academics and activists together to use their collective influence to promote gender and sexual rights in China and elsewhere.

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

Contact email: sci@soas.ac.uk

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4823

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RIP William Goldman 1931-2018 – A Writer with Good Taste in Shanghai Novels

Posted: November 17th, 2018 | No Comments »

Screenwriter William Goldman has died aged 87…

In his memoir Adventures in the Screen Trade, Goldman ruminates on the problem of adapting novels to the big screen and the demand for great opening scenes in films that are often lacking in literature. He does come up with one example however: ‘As I sit here I can only think of one first-class modern novel that begins at full speed, and that’s Malraux’s Man’s Fate.’

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The Chinese Labour Corps: World War One’s Hidden History – British Library, London – 17/11/18

Posted: November 16th, 2018 | No Comments »

The Chinese Labour Corps: World War One’s Hidden History

Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road

Discover the fascinating story of the Chinese Labour Corps – 96,000 men recruited by the British Army to provide support at the Front – in this afternoon of talks, a documentary film and musical tributes.

When Britain realised with horror that the war would last longer than expected and was taking its toll on its troops at the Western Front, they looked east to China to recruit men who could provide logistical help behind the lines. China, then a fledgling republic, was keen to assist the Western Allies, as this was an opportunity to cast off its humiliating label of being ‘the sick man of Asia’ and regain its status in the international society. Nearly 100,000 men were shipped over from the province of Shandong to the battlefields of France and Flanders. This was the Chinese Labour Corps (CLC) and, together with a further 40,000 employed by the French, they would become the largest foreign labour corps to serve the Allies during World War I.

Over 2,000 who worked for the British died from shellfire or disease. In northern France and Flanders, monuments and plaques have been put up in their memory. Here in Britain, there is nothing – no mention of the Chinese Labour Corps; no recognition of the part they played in the Great War; no memorial to those who gave their lives to a cause about which they knew little.

Frances Wood, former Curator of the British Library’s Chinese Collections, gives an introduction to the historical background of the CLC and explains the reasons and challenges behind China’s involvement in the Great War.

Gregory James, author of The Chinese Labour Corps – 1916-1920 explains the role of the British military in the recruitment and management of the Chinese.

Philip Vanhaelemeersch from Howest University in Belgium will draw on his translations of two diaries by Chinese labourers to illustrate the disparities between their initial expectations and actual experiences at the Front.

Documentary filmmaker Peng Wenlan introduces her film, The Chinese Labour Corps – Forgotten Faces of the Great War, which uses anecdotes recounted by descendants of Chinese labourers and Western officers serving with the CLC to recreate the experiences of the men as they make their arduous journey to Europe, the cultural conflicts they encounter at the Front and the devastation awaiting them on their return home.

Short pieces inspired by the story of the CLC will be performed on the erhu (Chinese violin) by their composer Charlie Tienyi Wardle.

In association with the Meridian Society

Image from W J Hawkings Collection courtesy of John de Lucy

More details: https://www.bl.uk/events/the-chinese-labour-corps

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Selling Dreams: Early Advertising in Singapore – National Library, Singapore

Posted: November 14th, 2018 | No Comments »

I cannot recommend this excellent exhibition in Singapore highly enough – it’s really fantastic….

 

Selling Dreams: Early Advertising in Singapore

20 July 2018 – 24 February 2019
10.00am – 9.00pm
Level 10, Gallery
National Library Building
Free admission

Advertisements are fascinating cultural documents that both shape and reflect people’s desires and ideals. This exhibition features advertising materials from the 1830s to 1960s in the National Library collection, and explores the hopes, dreams, aspirations and insecurities of society over the years.

Modelled after a department store, the exhibition highlights advertisements promoting a myriad of products, services and brands that once saturated Singapore’s busy consumer market. Through this colourful showcase of the National Library’s rare publications, magazines, newspapers and ephemera, you will gain a deeper understanding of advertising and its impact on society, while learning more about Singapore’s past.

download the brochure here

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Turning Archival Research into a Bestseller – Singapore Central Public Library Programme Zone – 14/11/18

Posted: November 12th, 2018 | No Comments »

An event I’m doing this Wednesday in Singapore…

Turning Archival Research into a Bestseller

Wed, 14 Nov, 2018, 7:00 PM – 8:30

Central Public Library, Programme Zone

100 Victoria Street, National Library Board, Singapore 188064

Turning Archival Research into a Bestselling Novel

Speaker: Paul French
Author of Midnight in Peking and City of Devils
Paul French is a historian and author who got very lucky twice at the National Library in Singapore. On two visits, he found material in the archives that was key to writing his bestselling true crime books Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China and City of Devils:  The Two Men Who Ruled the Underworld of Old Shanghai. Now, French returns to the library to share how he approached his search; when he knew he had struck gold; and how to turn your library finds into a bestseller. Whether you’re researching world history, Singapore history or your own family’s story, the National Library could just hold the keys to getting your story on the New York Times bestseller list.

About the Author
Paul French was born in London, educated there and in Glasgow, and lived and worked in Shanghai for many years. His book Midnight in Peking was a New York Times Bestseller, a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, a Mystery Writers’ of America Edgar award winner for Best Fact Crime and a Crime Writers’ Association (UK) Dagger award for non-fiction. His most recent book City of Devils has received much praise with The Economist writing, ‘…in Mr French the city has its champion storyteller.’ Both Midnight in Peking and City of Devils are currently being developed for television.

It’s free but you need top register here

Paul French’s participation is made possible by Singapore Writers Festival.

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A Power Awakened: China Then, Now, and its Impact on the World – SWF – 10/11/18 2.30-3.30

Posted: November 9th, 2018 | No Comments »

and so I begin my weekend at the Singapore Writers Festival….

A Power Awakened: China Then, Now, and its Impact on the World

Panel Discussions

DATE / TIME

10 Nov, Sat 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
60mins

VENUE

Asian Civilisations Museum, Ngee Ann Auditorium

FESTIVAL PASS EVENT
S$25

LANGUAGE

This session is in English

MODERATED BY

Greta Georges

DESCRIPTION

The last couple of decades have seen power shift from the West to Asia, led by China and India. With China making aggressive inroads into Africa and South America, she is now a global leader, not just in economic terms, but also her cultural might. Join China experts Paul French, Hoo Tiang Boon, and Anurag Viswanath as they discuss the changes that China has witnessed in her economic boom, and whether these have posed new opportunities and challenges to the rest of the world.

FEATURING

Paul French

UK

Paul French lived in Shanghai for 20 years, after studying Chinese and history in the UK. He is an author of literary non-fiction. His latest book, City of Devils, is set in the dancehalls, casinos and nightclubs of 1930s Shanghai. His previous book, Midnight in Peking, was a New York Times bestseller and is currently being developed for TV.

Photo Credit: Sue Anne Tay

Paul French is featured in the following SWF event(s):

Resurrecting the Bad Old Days: Researching the Dark Side of Pre-war Shanghai & Singapore
Anurag Viswanath

Singapore

Anurag Viswanath has been a researcher at Fudan University, China. The Mandarin speaker has authored Finding India in China. Over 15 years, she has written about China in Bangkok Post, The Nation, Far Eastern Economic Review, Business Standard and Financial Express. She has been guest speaker at Foreign Correspondent’s Club (Shanghai and Hong Kong), Royal Asiatic Society (Shanghai), Siam Society (Bangkok), Bookworm Festival (Beijing) and SWF.

Hoo Tiang Boon

Singapore

Hoo Tiang Boon (PhD, Oxford) is an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. His latest books include China’s Global Identity: Considering the Responsibilities of Great Power (Georgetown University Press) and (as an editor) Chinese Foreign Policy under Xi (Routledge).

 

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Midnight in Peking Walking Tour – November 10th 2018

Posted: November 9th, 2018 | No Comments »

the next Midnight in Peking walking tour is tonight!! last chance….

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Chinese Parasols in the California Desert, 1948

Posted: November 3rd, 2018 | No Comments »

I notice i haven’t posted a parasol picture for a while (there’s been loads – just put ‘parasol’ in the search engine). This image of model Virginia Stewart in Joset Walker for Harper’s Bazaar, shot in the desert near Yuma by Louise Dahl-Wolfe, May 1948….

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