Dr Wasserstrom speaks of how China has changed since 1644, when the Ming Dynasty fell and the Qing Dynasty began. He discusses what have been the main recurring patterns in the world’s most populous country during the last few centuries. He wonders whether the impact of government talk regarding “thousands of years” of continuous Chinese civilisation and “enduring Chinese values”, whether true or not, illuminate or distort. He shows how ideas about the past have been used, abused, reworked and repurposed by Chinese leaders and protestors from 1900 to today.
He talks of a series of big questions, drawing on thoughtful essays by an international array of specialists in different periods and eye-popping images brought together in The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China, which he edited. While tackling broad topics, the presentation zeroes in on various specific texts, including popular novels of the Ming and Qing eras. He discusses events, such as the Boxer Rebellion and international invasion of 1900, to show how looking backward can help to make sense of what is happening in China today and in the future.
Dr Jeffrey Wasserstrom is a Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. He holds a B.A. in History from the University of California, Santa Cruz, a MA from Harvard University and a PhD the University of California, Berkeley. Dr Wasserstrom is an advising editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books and an editor for the Journal of Asian Studies. He has written various publications, including China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, The Oxford Illustrated History of Modern China and Eight Juxtapositions. He contributes regularly to publications including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine.
Members of the RGS, their guests and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$150 for RGS Members and HK$200 for guests and others.