Alumni podcast, Episode 2, now available

In this episode, current students speak to Cindy Yu, Broadcast Editor at The Spectator about her childhood experiences in China, her best moments in Oxford and what she does in her job today at The Spectator.

The podcast can be accessed here

‘From the Cherwell to the Yangtze: The Oxford China Centre Alumni Podcast’, is a podcast where current Oxford Chinese studies undergraduates interview alumni of the China Centre to learn about where their relationship with Oxford and China has taken them since graduation.

We hope our podcasts will bring inspiration to prospective students thinking of applying for Chinese at Oxford one day, former alumni reminiscing about their days in Oxford and others interested in what opportunities studying Chinese in Oxford might bring.

The inaugural Trinity Season will be comprised of 5 episodes released over the course of Trinity Term 2021.

China Centre launches Alumni Podcast series

‘From the Cherwell to the Yangtze: The Oxford China Centre Alumni Podcast’, is a podcast where current Oxford Chinese studies undergraduates interview alumni of the China Centre to learn about where their relationship with Oxford and China has taken them since graduation.

We hope our podcasts will bring inspiration to prospective students thinking of applying for Chinese at Oxford one day, former alumni reminiscing about their days in Oxford and others interested in what opportunities studying Chinese in Oxford might bring.

The inaugural Trinity Season will be comprised of 5 episodes released over the course of Trinity Term 2021.

In the first podcast, we speak to Joe Cash, a policy analyst working at the China Britain Business Council in China. Joe discusses the future of China-British business relations, his experience studying Chinese and working/living in China. WARNING: includes very useful advice about working in China!

The podcast can be accessed here

A Message from Professor Todd Hall, Director of the China Centre

Greetings.

Many of you may have noted with alarm the decision by the People’s Republic of China to officially announce sanctions against foreign scholars and their families as a result of their scholarship, including Dr Jo Smith Finley of Newcastle University here in the United Kingdom. Scholarship should be judged and challenged on the basis of its reasoning, logic, methods, and evidence not the political palatability of its conclusions. Scholarship must be free to follow wherever its inquiry may lead, even when this means it runs counter to official interests and narratives. It is thus with great concern that I note these developments and respond by reiterating all the more strongly a commitment to treasure and protect academic freedom. It is sad that the times mean that this needs to be explicitly restated: scholars should not be punished for nor made the targets of efforts to deter them from pursuing their profession.

Sincerely,
Todd H. Hall
Director, University of Oxford China Centre

Rana Mitter to give the Edwin O. Reischauer Lectures at Harvard University

Over the next three weeks, Rana Mitter will give the Edwin O. Reischauer Lectures at Harvard University on ‘New Eras, Old Stories: From May Fourth and Meiji to the Twenty-first Century “New Era” – Defining East Asia in the Age of Novelty, Emotion and Purpose’. This is Harvard’s major invited lecture series in East Asian studies. There will be three lectures: 15 March, 22 March and 29 March 2021 at 12pm (Eastern Daylight Saving)

15 March, 12pm Eastern Daylight Saving (4pm GMT)

‘How New is the New Era?’

China’s leaders speak today of a ‘new era’ – but East Asia has seen a range of ‘new eras’ in the modern age, defined by Japan, China, and outsiders who encountered both.  What defines that novelty and how familiar are the elements that form part of it?  The mid-twentieth century saw war, social change and changing global encounters defined as moments when both China and Japan entered a ‘new’ or ‘special’ era in a global context.  What continuities and contrasts are there between the past and the present, and what defines that ‘newness’?

Speaker: Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, St. Cross College, University of Oxford

Discussant: Odd Arne Westad, Elihu Professor of History and Global Affairs, Yale University

22 March, 12pm Eastern Daylight Saving (4pm GMT)

‘An Era of Emotion’?

One factor that defines Chinese engagement with the world today is its highly emotional character, in terms of self-presentation that can move from saccharine to shrill at remarkable speed.  But emotion is not new – the use of the registers from exhilaration to depression defines the way that China, Japan and the Koreas have chosen to present themselves over the past century, whether through (often highly gendered) lenses of Asianism, revolution, martiality, discourses of ‘national humiliation’, or of global citizenship.  How much of this draws on emotional registers defined by modernity, and how much from a repertoire shaped by a culture with much longer roots?

Speaker: Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, St. Cross College, University of Oxford

Discussant: Jie Li, John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University

29 March, 12pm Eastern Daylight Saving (5pm GMT)

‘A Sense of Purpose?’

Some states have always maintained a sense that they have a mission in the world well beyond the maintenance of domestic order, the United States, France and Britain among them. Japan, China and the Koreas also inherited a strong sense of purpose in the modern era, from Meiji modernization to Mao’s ‘Three Worlds’ and the Belt and Road Initiative, ideas drawing on the longer past – yet the definition of that purpose has been in constant flux. What defines East Asia’s sense of purpose today, can we speak of it in regional terms, and how does it relate to its long history of aspiration to be an intellectual and moral exemplar?

Speaker: Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, St. Cross College, University of Oxford

Discussant: Arunabh Ghosh, Associate Professor of History, Harvard University

Message from new Director

Greetings!

I am writing to introduce myself as the new Director of the University of Oxford China Centre. It is my extreme fortune to be inheriting this role from Professor Rana Mitter, who has done amazing work over the past years in building the China Centre into one of the world’s premiere centres for independent, China-focused research.

I personally come from a background in the field of international relations and the discipline of political science and have worked on various aspects of the foreign policy and international relations of the People’s Republic of China. Of late, issues in these areas have assumed a prominent position in the headlines when it comes to China-related news. But the study of China is, of course, so much, much more than this. Indeed, even the term China encompasses so many different meanings — a geographically defined space; a community of diverse linguistic, cultural, and historical discourses and practices; an on-going and contested political and social project; and more.

I enter this role believing that no discipline or approach has a superior vantage point when it comes to China-focused research, and that one of the true strengths of the China Centre is its ability to bring together those working across a multiplicity of fields and topics to share insights, findings, and perspectives. I see it as both a real privilege and a source of humility to be in the company of such a remarkable collection of colleagues, visiting speakers and scholars, and — last but certainly not least — students at all stages of their academic progress. In fact, in many ways I enter this position as a perpetual student myself, aware that there is so much to learn from those who will surround me in my role.

My goals are to carry forward the work of the China Centre in supporting China-related research and academic dialogue within Oxford, in providing a space for exchange and engagement with scholars of China from outside Oxford, and in promoting the work of our students and scholars nationally and internationally. At a time where debates concerning China and China-related issues have become increasingly polarised, I view the China Centre’s commitment to academic freedom—both in inquiry and expression—as one of its most valuable assets, to be treasured and protected.

To the existing friends China Centre, thank you for all that you have done over the years, and I greatly look forward to getting to know you if I do not already. Your ongoing support is invaluable. To fellow colleagues, scholars, and students, you are at the heart of what we do. I will do my best to ensure that the centre continues to work in the service of the academic endeavour, even under these challenging conditions.

I am very excited about the coming year, for despite current circumstances, we intend to continue apace, including hosting a variety of fascinating speakers. Please do be on the lookout for upcoming announcements about various events that we will be holding (albeit virtually, for the time being).

Sincerely,

Todd H. Hall

New Director for University of Oxford China Centre: Todd Hall takes up post

It has been an honour to serve as Director of the University of Oxford China Centre for the past seven years.  It was a particular privilege to be the director who was given the task of coordinating the move into the magnificent Dickson Poon Building in September 2014.

I am particularly happy to hand over to a brilliant and dedicated colleague, Professor Todd Hall, fellow of St Anne’s College, who takes over as Director from the start of Michaelmas Term 2020.

Todd is a distinguished scholar of the international relations of East Asia.  His book Emotional Diplomacy: Official Emotion on the International Stage, was a co-recipient of the International Studies Association’s 2016 Diplomatic Studies Section Book Award, and he has published in major journals including International Organization, International SecurityInternational Studies Quarterly, International Studies Review, Political Psychology, Political Science Quarterly, and Security Studies.   His homepage is here: http://www.politics.ox.ac.uk/academic-faculty/todd-hall.html

At a time when China is at the top of the global news agenda, serious research, teaching and outreach on that country is increasingly urgent.  I look forward immensely to the China Centre going on to new strengths in those areas under Todd’s leadership, and wish him the very best fortune in this most exciting of endeavours.

Rana Mitter

Director, University of Oxford China Centre, 2013-20

Rana Mitter will receive the 2020 Norton Medlicott Medal

Rana Mitter will receive the 2020 Norton Medlicott Medal awarded by the Historical Association (HA) for outstanding services and current contributions to History. See here for past winners.

The Historical Association said:

‘The Medlicott Award is named after a distinguished past HA president, Professor W.N. Medlicott. Nominations are made by individual members of the Association, branch officers and members of council for the Executive to decide at their annual autumn meeting. The criteria state that ‘it is important to choose recipients whose distinction is already apparent and can be made readily apparent to the general public as well as to members of the Association.’ It is quite clear that Professor Mitter meets all these criteria.

Professor Mitter will receive the Medlicott Medal this summer at the HA annual awards evening and will provide that evening’s key address. The date will be confirmed soon, and places are available to all HA members free of charge. Please email info@history.org.uk to register your interest in attending.’

Rana Mitter said:

‘It’s an immense honour to be awarded the Medlicott Medal, which has been held by such a wide range of distinguished historians. I’m particularly pleased that Chinese history has been noted this year – at a time when the rise of China means that that country will have an impact on all of our lives, it’s more and more important for us to have a clear sense of the historical forces that have shaped it.’