Chinese Women’s Lives in Their Own Voices

Saturday, January 7, 2023: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Room 306

Chair(s):
Dewen Zhang, Randolph-Macon College

Papers:

Gender, Class, and Religion in the Making of a Socialist Space Engineer
Ruoyun Bai, University of Toronto

From Petit-Bourgeois Daughters to New Women of Socialist China: The Fate of Small Business Owners in Yangtze Delta, 1949–79
Dandan Chen, State University of New York, Farmingdale State College

From Unemployed Youth to Political Consultative Committee Member: Career Mobility and Political Participation Seen from the Life of an Urban Woman, 1960–2000
Shuang Chen, University of Iowa

The Trouble to Grow Up: “Hidden Girls” under the One Child Policy in Contemporary China, 1989–2021
Yu Wang, University of Macau

Comment: Gail Hershatter, University of California, Santa Cruz

Panel Abstract:

Historians of women and gender in the People’s Republic of China have often focused their research either on the Mao’s era or after; rarely have they treated the time frame from 1949 to the present collectively. This panel attempts to examine the lives of women in their own voices using oral history materials by treating this period as a collectivity with its own continuity despite the remarkable changes in the organization of social production and political rhetoric. This treatment allows the panel to discuss women’s experiences from a rather long historical perspective while maintaining a micro historical approach in its focus on the configuration of self-identities in these years as the country itself often was undergoing similar construction and reconstruction in the realms of society, culture, politics, and economy. Using gender as an analytical approach, this panel also considers the issues of the binarity between the rural and the urban, career and identity-making, women and family, technology and politics.

The panelists explore the dynamic between memory and narrative and discuss how the interviewees mobilize memory in their construction of selves and self-identities. The panel papers also reflect on the issue of “double presentations” of the interviewers who are often daughters, relatives, and friends to those who are interviewed. By doing so, the panel talks directly to the issue of “neutrality” in oral history projects. Finally, the panel discusses possibilities, opportunities and challenges of feminist oral history project while engaging with the discourse beyond the field of China studies.

Papers abstracts:

  • “Gender, Class, and Religion in the Making of a Socialist Space Engineer,” Ruoyun Bai, University of Toronto

This paper tells the life history of my mother, Shen Xiaocun, using oral history, micro history and critical interpretive methodologies. Born in 1944, she grew up in a rural family in northern China. As a single child, she was allowed to go to school by a reluctant father; blessed with her mother’s and teachers’ unswerving support, she stood out academically and became enrolled in Beijing Aeronautics and Astronautics University in 1964. From 1969 to 2004, she worked for China’s space industry first as communication and meteorological satellite engineer and then as spaceship engineer, before retiring to take care of my son born in the United States. She and my father migrated to Canada in 2014 to remain close to me and my family.

My mother’s life story might conform to that of an imagined socialist engineer who rose through the socialist education system and, having developed the two key attributes of expertise and political loyalty, successfully turned herself into a cog in the machine. But how well does the identity of “red engineer” describe my mother’s lived experience? Not well, I argue. Through multiple extended interviews with her, I recognize intersecting her professional identity as engineer are experiences of everyday life. These experiences have been inseparable from and structured in different relations to her work and workplace. They are mutually constitutive and constraining; yet it is primarily in everyday experiences that my mother anchors the meaning of her life and finds ways to deal with constraints and vicissitudes of the world. In addition to her dedication to work, I highlight the following experiences – material deprivation during childhood and impact on her later life; de-politization and reclamation of Christianity; and mother-daughter bond she had with my grandmother and with me. I will show how these experiences have significantly impacted the way she makes sense of her life story and proved to be more lasting in effect than her work as engineer.

This paper also reflects on what it means to interview one’s own mother and how the mother-daughter bond can be construed as a critical method in gender studies. In this paper, the mother-daughter bond is meaningful in two ways: it enables and empowers this research project; in my mother’s story, it is clear that the mother-daughter bond that she had with my grandmother was absolutely essential to her work as a young engineer (my grandmother moved to live with us and take care of me once I was born), and that the bond I have with her has been similarly essential to my career as an academic.

  • “From Petit-Bourgeois Daughters to New Women of Socialist China: The Fate of Small Business Owners in Yangtze Delta (1949-1979)”, Dandan Chen, State University of New York at Farmingdale

This paper defines the generation of Chinese women who were born in the late 1940s and early 1950s as “gongheguo de nü’er”(“Daughters of the People’s Republic”) and examine the interactions among state, society, family, and these Socialist new women through case studies of several women associated with a family of small business owners: The author argues that there are two levels of subjectivity as “daughters of the People’s Republic”: 1) individual subjectivity and 2) collective subjectivity, and that these two levels interact and shape each other at the same time. By analyzing the narrative and memories of these socialist new women, the paper reflects on the history of Socialist China from a micro-historical perspective: the inter-city moves of small-business-owner families before and after 1949, the internal divisions and different choices within small-business-owner families in the new society’s road to gongsi heying (joint state-private ownership) and various life experiences of family members in the city and the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. By combining oral history, micro-history, macro-history, and textual analysis of literature and film, the paper explores some fundamental issues of social change in socialist China from different theoretical perspectives, including: the interplay between rural and urban, socialist transformation, migrations and changes of various economic forms in the Yangtze Delta, the dichotomy of the public and the private in socialist China, and the birth of the “daughters of the People’s Republic” as “socialist new women” at the individual and group levels.

  • “From Unemployed Youth to Political Consultative Committee Member: Career Mobility and Political Participation Seen from the Life of an Urban Woman, 1960-2000,” Shuang Chen, University of Iowa

This paper is a microhistory of the career trajectory of Jun, a woman who lived her youth and middle age in the city of Chongqing between 1960 and 2000. China saw drastic political, social, and economic changes in these four decades. Consequently, individuals living in this period often saw dramatic ups and downs in their lives. Graduated from a science and technology secondary school in 1963, Jun initially had a job as a professional in agricultural science but later gave up the position as she saw the working environment becoming increasingly anti-intellectual. She then worked on multiple positions as a temporary worker until she finally became a high school teacher in the 1980s. Later she was recommended by her school to the District-level Political Consultative Committee as a member.

Using Jun’s case, this paper plans to explore two questions. First, how did social status, gender, and educational background interact with political climate to affect individuals’ career mobility in this period? Second, how did individuals’ attitude toward politics and their own political participation change during these four decades? As most scholarship and popular literature on this period have focused on the lives of the sent-down youths, this paper sheds light on the lives of the youths who did not go down to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution and instead stayed in the cities. In so doing, this paper also contributes to a holistic understanding of the generation who lived their youth during the Cultural Revolution. 

  • The Trouble to Grow Up: “Hidden Girls” under the One Child Policy in Contemporary China (1989-2021),” Yu Wang, University of Macau

This paper focuses on the women who were raised outside their natal families during their childhood in China of the 1980s and 1990s. Existing scholarship often focuses on the psychological disorder this community has experienced while overlooking the complicated roles such an experience has played in the formation of personal memory and identity. This paper adopts the methodology of oral history and analyzes the narrative the informants employed in recalling and reflecting upon their past, as well as drawing organic connections between that past and their current living conditions. The author further regards the conversation with the informants as a cooperation and explores how such a cooperative relationship influences the ways in which the informants narrate their childhood experience and eventually turn the history of “hidden women” to the hidden history of women in contemporary societies.

China in the Socialist World: Translation, Adaptation, and Appropriation

Saturday, January 7, 2023: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Room 306

Chair(s):
Pu Wang, Brandeis University

Papers:
Ilya Ehrenburg in China: “Internal Readings” and Competing Visions of Soviet Revisionism during the Chinese Cultural Revolution
Yaowen Dong, University of Memphis

“Workers Shall Be the Masters of Philosophy”: The Reception of Joseph Dietzgen and the Making of Marxist Tradition in Socialist China
Yiming Ma, University of California, Santa Barbara

René Étiemble’s Odyssey of Maoism: Illusion and Disillusion of Maoist China in France between the 1960s and 1970s
Ying Xing, The University of Hong Kong

Comment: Pu Wang, Brandeis University

Panel Description

This panel discusses the transmission, translation, and adaptation of Western and Soviet Marxist writers in Socialist China between the 1950s and 1970s. Yiming Ma’s paper complicates the notion of “circulation” by incorporating mass movement and transnational transmissions into the formation of Marxist orthodoxy in China. Yaowen Dong’s paper investigates the official and underground reception of the Soviet writer Ilya Ehrenberg in Mao’s China and the discursive ways in which “revisionism” shaped Chinese political identity. Ying Xing examines the productivity of circulations, focusing on how French and Chinese leftist writers encountered misunderstandings and misinterpretations because of their ambiguous political stances. By discussing the spread of socialism around the globe diachronically and synchronically, this panel presents a transnational circulation of socialist ideas that are not systematically guided from the top, but a bumbling network full of detours and confrontations from all sides.

Paper Abstracts

  • “Ilya Ehrenburg in China: ‘Internal Readings’ and Competing Visions of Soviet Revisionism during the Chinese Cultural Revolution”, Yaowen Dong, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Since 1959, to prepare for the confrontation with the Soviet Union, the Chinese Propaganda Department of the Central Committee organized scholars, writers, and publishers to translate a series of “revisionist” Soviet literature and political writings that reflect the alleged post-Stalinist Soviet ideological deviations such as humanism, liberalism, and individualism. The access to these books was limited to an “internal” group of officials. While the official publication and circulation of these books were halted in 1966 with the onset of the Cultural Revolution, the chaos of the Red Guards movement had led to a proliferated underground consumption of these “Internal Readings” among Chinese youths. Ilya Ehrenburg’s memoir People, Years, and Life became an underground cultural icon among Chinese youths who became increasingly disillusioned with the Cultural Revolution. This paper examines the discursive ways in which Ehrenburg’s work was curated and consumed in both official and underground settings in Mao’s China. While the official deemed his memoir an example of Soviet revisionism, Ehrenburg’s pre-war experience in the European literary and artistic circle made him a medium for Chinese youths in underground reading groups to be exposed to western literature, arts, and ideology. Through official presentations and underground circulations, Ehrenburg’s memoir unintendedly became a site of intensive ideological and cultural contestation.

  • “‘Workers Shall Be the Masters of Philosophy’: the Reception of Joseph Dietzgen and the Making of Marxist Tradition in Socialist China”, Yiming Ma, University of California, Santa Barbara

This paper examines the Chinese translations and commentaries on the 19th-century German worker-philosopher Peter Josef Dietzgen in the context of the movement of mass philosophy learning. Marxists often credited Dietzgen with conceptualizing dialectical materialism independently from Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Since the Great Leap Forward, his philosophical works were reprinted, and monographs on Dietzgen from the Soviet Union were introduced and translated in China. As a result, Dietzgen’s biography and significance were widely cited by workers and professional philosophers alike till the 1980s. However, the tensions between his class identity and the deviation of his theory of the mind from materialism led to debates over how to characterize his epistemology and situate him in the Marxist tradition. I argue that the consolidation of philosophical orthodoxy in Socialist China was a dynamic process involving not only theoretical debates but also mass movements and transnational circulations. 

  • “René Étiemble’s Odyssey of Maoism: Illusion and Disillusion of Maoist China in France between the 1960s and 1970s”, Ying Xing, The University of Hong Kong

The late 1960s and early 1970s saw a political vogue for Maoist China in France when China was in the heyday of the Cultural Revolution. Disillusioned by Stalinist communism, students became fascinated by Maoist slogans in the Little Red Book, and influential intellectuals were keen on visiting China. However, French “intoxication” with Mao, which unexpectedly sparked the May movement, quickly vanished within one decade partly because of the failure of May ’68. The trajectory of René Étiemble, a committed Marxist sinologist, coincided with the short history of French fascination with Maoist China. Whereas René Étiemble expressed reverence for Mao and appreciation for Maoist theories in Do We Know China (1964), he deviated from Maoism and criticized French Maoists as misguided intellectuals in the early 1970s. This paper examines the reception of Maoism in France in light of Étiemble’s direct involvement in China and indirect involvement through research and writing. By tracing Étiemble’s twists and turns in his exploration of Maoism, I argue that the spread of Maoist ideas around the globe was not a systematic circulation of ideas guided by communists, but emerged from a set of experiments, failures, detours, and frustrations shared by orthodox and unorthodox leftists who struggled with political impasses confronting Marxism. 

Mapping the Important Changes of 20th Century China: Writing History, Political Maneuvers, and National Transformation

Saturday, January 7, 2023: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Room 306

Chair(s):
Qiong Zhang, Wake Forest University

Papers:
Sheng Shicai, the CCP, and the Soviet Influence in Xinjiang, 1933–43
Xiao-Bing Li, University of Central Oklahoma

Writing History in China from the Late Qing to Reformed China
Qiang Fang, University of Minnesota Duluth

Li Dazhao and the Formation of the United Front between the KMT and the CCP
Patrick Fuliang Shan, Grand Valley State University

Comment: Guo Wu, Allegheny College

Panel Description

China was significantly transformed in the 20th century, along with its extreme makeover from empire to republic, from tradition to modernity, and from imperial stability to violent revolutions. The three papers here examine China’s dramatic changes from some unique perspectives. Historical writing in 20th century China underwent dramatic changes, as diverse paradigms were adopted for historical interpretation. Yet, the Marxist doctrine introduced from the USSR (also from the West) has dominated China’s historiography for decades. The USSR was a matchmaker for the alliance between the KMT and the CCP in the 1920s. Yet, this alliance was forged with the substantial assistance of China’s early communists, such as Li Dazhao. The Soviet penetration into China’s northwestern frontier of Xinjiang and Chinese communist maneuvers are discussed in the third paper. Thus, a common theme of this panel is to investigate China’s dramatic transformation and its special ties with its northern neighbor. 

Paper Abstracts

  • “Sheng Shicai, the CCP, and the Soviet Influence in Xinjiang, 1933-1943”, Xiaobing Li, University of Central Oklahoma

From 1933 to 1942, the Soviet Union provided military, economic, and political support to warlord Sheng Shicai’s government and sent Russian advisors to Xinjiang by working in Sheng’s administration. Soviet leader Josef Stalin’s brother-in-law led a Russian economic construction committee to Xinjiang to help the provincial government with the first three-year plan (1937-1940). This paper examines Moscow and Comintern’s intention and policy toward Sheng during the 1930s and explains how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) failed to open a western route from Yan’an to the Chinese-Russian border through Xinjiang, to receive Soviet aid. However, the CCP took the opportunity and sent some officers to study military and aviation skills in Russian-sponsored academies in Xinjiang. The Chinese Communists had their first group of graduates in 1940 capable of forming an independent technical aviation team during World War II. This young group of students from Xinjiang Airlines Training Academy grew into the backbone of the PLA Air Force after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, and many of them took leadership roles at the high levels of the Chinese Air Force.

  • “Writing History in China from the Late Qing to Reformed China”, Qiang Fang, University of Minnesota Duluth

Chinese historical writing can be traced back to ancient times. Yet, China’s historiography underwent four major overall changes in terms of paradigms. Starting from the Han dynasty, historians were organized by imperial rulers to compile histories of the former dynasty, which centered on the rise and fall of different empires with a focus on former emperors, officials, wars, and legal systems. Very little ink had been spilled on science, medicine, agriculture, and art. In the late Qing dynasty, new historiography from the West was introduced, which differed sharply from the traditional one, as it shifted to people, social changes, and human evolution. In the 1930s, Marxist historians emerged with a clarion call of a historiography based on class theory and historical materialism. After the communist takeover of mainland China, communist historians were compelled to write histories appealing to the political needs of the party, including tweaking and fabricating histories. Mao’s death helped loosen the political grip, while historians enjoyed more freedom and thus were eager to deviate from the orthodox Marxist historiography by embracing Western historiography. More importantly, the latest paradigm of historiography markedly demonstrates a wide variety of and interest in microhistories that have been either downplayed or dismissed previously. 

  • “Li Dazhao and the Formation of the United Front between the KMT and the CCP”, Patrick Fuliang Shan, Grand Valley State University

This paper investigates the important role of Li Dazhao in the shaping of the first united front between the Nationalist Party and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the mid-1920s. In fact, this political alliance was so vital that it changed the history of modern China, as it enabled the Nationalist Party to unify China and to end the warlord era. Traditionally, many scholars focus on Sun Yat-sen and his close relationship with the Soviet Union to interpret the shaping of this united front, which neglects the important role of China’s early communists. In this paper, Li Dazhao’s role will be highlighted. Li was China’s first communist and a co-founder of the CCP. By working closely with his political partners, he promoted this united front and personally supported it vehemently. By utilizing voluminous primary sources, this paper reveals Li’s crucial roles in communicating with Sun Yat-sen, in persuading the early communists to embrace the alliance, and in working closely with the Soviet Union for its finalization. In fact, Li worked diligently for this united front for which he ultimately sacrificed his life, as he was executed by the warlord Zhang Zuolin in 1927.

Transnational Gender and Women in Modern China

Friday, January 6, 2023: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Room 306

Chair(s):
Dewen Zhang, Randolph-Macon College

Papers:

  • The Making of Modern Female Citizens in Republican Beijing

Aihua Zhang, Gardner-Webb University

  • Herlinda Chew: A Chinese–Mexican Woman’s Identity Formation through Negotiation along the US–Mexico Border, 1900s–1930s

Xuening Kong, Purdue University

  • Promoting American Sexuality: The “Glocalization” of American Beverages in Wartime Shanghai (1930s-1940s)

Haoran Ni, University of Kansas

  • Departure from the Household Kitchen: The Great Leap Forward toward Women’s Employment in China, 1958–62

Hanchao Lu, Georgia Institute of Technology

Comment: Margaret Mih Tillman, Purdue University

Panel Description:

In the twentieth century, Chinese women’s lives underwent great changes under the influence of Westernization and globalization. Chinese women undertook more social responsibilities as citizens rather than staying at home, as most of them had done in earlier times. Their public and global activities even changed the social expectation of Chinese womanhood. Thus, discussing women’s stories not only helps to understand the gender dynamics in China, but also offers an angle from which to study the interactions between China and the West and the formation of modern Chinese society. The four papers of this panel focus on the period from the 1900s to the 1960s and explore, from global and transnational perspectives, how formerly marginalized Chinese women were integrated and mobilized into the modernization and nation-building process in China.

Paper Abstracts

  • “The Making of Modern Female Citizens in Republican Beijing”, Aihua Zhang, Gardner-Webb University

There are two major strands of scholarship on women in Republican Beijing: one focusing on the educated or elite; and the other on the lower class. Sparse attention has been paid to the interactions between the two groups of women beyond the areas of charity and political mobilization. This paper will take up this scholarly insufficiency by examining the Beijing Young Women’s Christian Association’s (YWCA’s) anti- binü (bonded girl servants) and mass literacy campaigns, which were launched in response to the nationwide fervor during the 1920s. Regarding binü, the Association not only took action to help emancipate them from bondage, but also taught freed ones to learn employable skills, including skills for paid domestic work in modern terms, with mixed outcomes. In its literacy education, the Association targeted working-class women, who constituted more than half of the city’s illiterate population. While not intending to raise class and political awareness among women as the Shanghai YWCA did, the Beijing YWCA was successful in attracting students through a variety of instructional methods and instilled civic consciousness in them. Both programs contributed to the making of independent, literate female citizens in Beijing’s modern transformation.

  • Herlinda Chew: A Chinese-Mexican Woman’s Identity Formation through Negotiation along the U.S.-Mexico Border, 1900s-1930s”, Xuening Kong, Purdue University

Born with a mixture of three cultures, Herlinda Chew (1893-1939) engaged with Chinese, Mexican, and Anglo-American communities in the El Paso-Ciudad Juárez region while developing friendships with local immigration officers and military troops. She once helped 200 local Chinese residents and their family members cross the border to avoid warfare during the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920). Moreover, as a mixed-race Chinese, Chew established connections and a sense of belonging to China through multiple relationships in her life, including her husband, her assistance to Chinese individuals in returning to China, as well as her own travel to China with family members. This paper focuses on Chew’s life in the border region and the establishment of her transnational connections. I will examine how her negotiation among regional powers and the formation of Chinese identity were under the influence of transnational, national, and regional politics, familial cultural background, as well as her personal goals. I argue that, in addition to “born as a half-Chinese,” multilateral borderland lives and transnational travel largely contributed to Herlinda Chew’s formation and adaptability of her self-identity. Affiliation with China thus did not necessarily stem from feelings of belonging instilled among overseas families, but rather developed in the intercultural exchanges of daily life. This paper highlights overseas mixed-race Chinese women’s agency and challenges preconceptions of nation-centered citizenship in defining overseas Chinese people. It also a-geographizes the concept of “China” by placing the historiography of overseas Chinese in U.S.-Mexico borderlands in conversation with that of modern Chinese history, expanding the focus of both.

  • “Promoting American Sexuality: The “Glocalization” of American Beverages in Wartime Shanghai (1930s-1940s) “ Haoran Ni, The University of Kansas

This paper explores how American beverages promoted gendered modernity in China and how the sexuality they presented became cultural targets of criticism that stimulated Chinese nationalism during wartime (1930s –1940s). First, the images of sexy modern Chinese women wearing Cheongsam or swimsuits were often featured in Coca-Cola posters. Watson’s Mineral Water Company, the bottling company for Coca-Cola in Shanghai, used these women’s images to arouse public desire for sexuality, as well as for the American Coca-Cola. These posters reveal that Coca-Cola became a common beverage at fashionable women’s gatherings, through which the bottling company built a natural connection between American beverages and Chinese modernity. Second, the images of Coca-Cola and ice cream usually emphasized the intimacy and romance between the two sexes: men and women hugged and even flirted with each other in the context of consuming American beverages. This mixed-gender socialization and romance conflicted with the Chinese tradition of physical segregation between men and women. Third, in the 1930s, because ice cream was the favorite of Hollywood actresses, the Chinese audience used the term “ice cream for the eyes” to refer to men’s pleasure in watching the erotic scenes in Hollywood movies. It was a time when Japan was invading China, thus Chinese patriots criticized ice cream, as well as the sexy Hollywood movies as American indulgence that would weaken Chinese nationalism in the war. Overall, through discussing the relationship between Western food and sexuality, on the one hand, and modernity and nationalism, on the other, I argue that American cold beverages promoted gender modernity in China; yet, Westernized sexuality and romance stirred up great resentment among the Chinese people during wartime.

  • “Departure from the Household Kitchen: Great Leap Forward towards Women’s Employment in China (1958-62)”, Hanchao Lu, Georgia Institute of Technology

The Great Leap Forward (1958-62) was the economic and social campaign led by Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that resulted in great famines and ecological disasters. Even the CCP today admits that it was a major mistake that the party had made during the Mao era. This paper looks at a “positive” side of the campaign, arguing that the Great Leap Forward marked the beginning of a large-scale and irreversible trend toward near universal employment of women in China’s cities.  It takes Shanghai as a case study to examine urban neighborhood workshops established during the campaign that employed hundreds of thousands of women, mostly former housewives, with lower pay and little fringe benefits. By the end of the Mao era, nearly half of China’s women workers were employed in this kind of non-state-owned enterprises. This employment pattern created an institution that contributed to high employment rate of women in urban China and deserves attention in the study of women, labor, and state-society relations in the People’s Republic of China. It represented a significant departure from the Soviet and communist East European model of industrial development in which the governments during high Stalinist period simply denied that anyone but a worker in heavy industry could be a legitimate part of working class.

Roundtable: Teaching Contentious China in Polarized American Universities

Sunday, January 8, 2023: 11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Room 306

Chair(s):
Yidi Wu, Elon University

Speaker(s):
Yidi Wu, Elon University
Qiong Liu, Virginia Military Institute
Xiangli Ding, Rhode Island School of Design
Lei Duan, Sam Houston State University

Roundtable Session Description

With the rising nationalism and increasing tension between China and the US in recent years, teaching PRC history in the US has not only become more relevant but also more challenging. This is particularly true for historians with Chinese origin. The diversification and internationalization of American higher education have brought different views into the classroom. When teaching about modern China, especially contentious topics such as the Cultural Revolution, Tiananmen Protests, and ongoing suppression in Xinjiang, students with different cultural backgrounds and political ideologies would react very differently. While discussions and debates are helpful for students to understand these topics, we also see confusion and pushback from students.

Our roundtable panelists have experienced challenges with our students and witnessed heated exchanges between students with different political positions. Our discussion explores PRC historians’ pedagogies when teaching PRC history in the US, aiming to make the classroom a safe and respectful space for learning and communication. Xiangli Ding will talk about challenges and cultural bias in the classroom, and how he coped with them. Yidi Wu will share her experience using role-playing games and news reports to discuss contentious subjects such as the 1989 Tiananmen Protests and the contemporary struggles of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. Qiong Liu will discuss various forms of materials in her teaching, students’ different responses, and her skills in coping with students’ confusion. Finally, Lei Duan will discuss how he approached the issues of Taiwan and Hong Kong in a politically diverse classroom.