Roundtable: Teaching Contentious China in Polarized American Universities

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

Yidi Wu, Elon University

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.