Asia in Depth Series

Please mark your calendars for this series of talks in which scholars approaching China from various fields will introduce their new work to the Georgetown campus and community. The series is offered by the Georgetown Initiative for Global History and the Asian Studies Program at Georgetown, with support from the Offices of the Provost and the Vice President for Global Engagement.

All talks (unless otherwise advertised) held on Thursdays from 5:00-7:00 p.m. in Intercultural Center (ICC) room 662 on the Georgetown University campus.

Please contact Prof. James Millward for more information. If you wish to be added to the seminar’s email list, please email

Upcoming Events in 2023-2024

February 22 – Joan Kee (University of Michigan in Ann Arbor) | On the Maoist Origins of an Un-American Art History

Often described through what its namesake Mao Zedong described as the “revolutionary struggle of the vast majority of people against the exploiting classes and their state structures,” Maoism retains a force whose magnitude we are only beginning to apprehend. Its impact on visual culture is especially profound: not only have depictions of Mao infiltrated nearly every corner of the globe, Maoist alignments course through many artworks made in an America that regards Maoism only through its worst excesses or as a blanket pejorative for any anti-capitalist position. Through, and beside, the works of Ed Bereal, Jim Dong, Nancy Hom, May Sun and Hung Liu, I consider Maoism as an angle of incidence through which to consider an un-American art history divorced from narratives of citizenship-based inclusion.

Joan Kee is Professor in the History of Art at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Her  books include Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method (2013), Models of Integrity: Art and Law in Post Sixties America (2019) and The Geometries of Afro Asia: Art beyond Solidarity (2023). A contributing editor at Artforum and an editor-at-large for the Brooklyn Rail, she has written extensively on modern and contemporary art, including articles on the impact of legal jurisdiction on contemporary Chinese art and on how photography problematizes the concept of “peacetime.” Her work has been supported by the Clark Art Institute, the Kresge Foundation, the National Gallery of Art, the Hyundai Tate Research Center, and MoMA.

March 21 – Soojung Han (Southwestern University) | The Rise of the Shatuo Turks: Identity Formation in Medieval China

The Shatuo Turks, a nomadic people from Inner Asia, migrated to China during the Tang Dynasty in the eighth century. Rising from migrants to mercenaries to generals to court officials, the Turkic migrants overcame societal hurdles as a minority group and rose to become a significant political force in the Tang court. Following the collapse of the Tang in 907, this group of migrants came to wield power in North China, founding three dynasties of the Five Dynasties and one of the Ten Kingdoms. However, much of their success is diminished by a dichotomic representation which hounds their legacy: traditional histories brand them as “barbarians,” yet consider them as their predecessors, while modern scholars argue that they were Sinicized, thus “Chinese.” My project challenges these narratives and instead navigates the development of the Shatuo identity. Crucial to the rise and resilience of the Shatuo as a minority group was their observation of kinship and nomadic traditions as well as their creation of an “elite” identity which cemented their legacy as rulers over “China” for over fifty years. 

Soojung Han is an assistant professor of History at Southwestern University. She is a historian of medieval China and Inner Asia whose main field of research is the relations between China and Inner Asia during the Middle Period, with particular emphasis on gender, ethnicity, and identity. Her current book project proposes that the diplomatic relations and identity formation of the 10th century marked a watershed in Chinese history which reshaped the Sino-Inner Asian world. She received her PhD in East Asian Studies from Princeton University in 2022. This coming year, her works will be published in Ethnic Terminologies in Eurasian Perspective in the Visions of Community (VISCOM) series.

October 1 – Keisha Brown (Tennessee State University)
The History of Anti-Blackness in China and Sino-Black Relations

October 15 – Tatiana Linkhoeva (New York University)
Samurai and Mongols: How Yoshitsune Became Genghis Khan

November 15 – Vivian Shaw (Harvard University)
Pandemic Risks: Asian-American and Pacific Islander Workers during COVID-19

February 11 – Chapurukha Kusimba (University of South Florida)
East Africa and Archaeological Evidence for Indian Ocean Maritime Trade Networks with

March 11 – Andrea Mendoza (University of California, San Diego)
Tierras Incógnitas: The (Dis)embodied Inscriptions of Imperial Nationalisms

April 15 – Eric Schluessel (George Washington University)
Confucian Civilization and Its Discontents: The Uyghur Homeland in the Late Qing

September 25 – Jeffrey Ngo (Georgetown University)
History Before Your Eyes: Chronicling Hong Kong’s Summer of Discontent

October 17 – Elise Anderson (Indiana University, Bloomington)
Imperfect Perfection: Uyghur Music and Practices of Cultural Renovation in the People’s Republic of China

November 18 – Joseph Seeley (University of Virginia)
Water, Ice and ‘Bandits’: Yalu River Border Security through the Seasons, 1910-1945

January 23 – Jinghua Wangling (Loyola University Maryland)
Shaping the Legend of Mulan: From the “Ballad of Mulan” to Mulan: Rise of a Warrior (2009)

February 27 – Sing-Chen Chiang (Boston College)
The Taiping guangji

March 17 – Kenneth Pomeranz (University of Chicago)

April 2 – Jeffrey Bayliss (Trinity College)
Athletes from Colonial Korea in Pre-War Japanese Sports

September 20 – Megha Rajagopalan (Buzzfeed News)
Reporting on Xinjiang, China and Technology: a Conversation with Buzzfeed’s Megha Rajagopalan

October 18 – Alison Zhao (Georgetown University)
Her Battles

November 15 – Sulmaan Khan (Tufts University)
China’s Grand Strategy from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping

December 4 – Nathan Law, Agnes Chow, Jeffrey Ngo, and Mike Davis (Moderator)
The State of Hong Kong’s Authoritarian Turn: A Conversation with Youth Political Activists

December 13 – Howard French (Columbia University)
Understanding China’s African Ties in a Historical Context

January 24 – Emily Baum (University of California, Irvine)
Asylums and the Insane in Early Twentieth-Century China

February 7 – Diana Kim (Georgetown University)
Empires of Vice: Opium and the Rise of Prohibition across Southeast Asia, 1870s-1940s

April 4 – Wu Hung (Wu Hung)
Representation and Self-Representation: Courtesan Culture in Ming Dynasty China and Its Artistic Production
Co-Sponsored with Department of Art and Art History and Department of Theology and Religious Studies

April 25 – Paul Barclay (Lafayette College)
Regime Change in Taiwan? The Qing-Japanese Transition Viewed from the Hengchun Peninsula

September 28
Bin Xu, Emory University
“The Politics of Compassion: The Sichuan Earthquake and Civic Engagement in China”

October 12
Aynne Kokas, University of Virginia
“Hollywood Made in China”

November 9
Amy McNair, The University of Kansas
“The Literati-Eunuch: Liang Shicheng and the Xuanhe Catalogue of Paintings.”

December 14
Sophie Richardson & Thomas Kellogg
“Engaging a Changing China?”

January 25
Oriana Mastro, Georgetown University
“It Takes Two to Tango: Autocratic Underbalancing, Regime Legitimacy, and China’s Responses to India’s Rise.”

February 22
Brandon Dotson, Georgetown University
“The Devas in the Dice and the Devils in the Details: Dice Divination and its Transmission out of India in 8th to 10th Centuries”

April 19
Rebecca Kuang, Publishing with Harper-Collins as a Georgetown University Senior
“THE POPPY WAR: A reading and discussion with Rebecca Kuang, GU’ 18.”

April 26
John Flower & Pam Leonard

Tuesday, May 1
Federico Marcon, Princeton University
“Money as Will and Representation in Eighteenth-Century Japan”

September 15
Max Oidtmann, Georgetown University
“Qing Colonialism, Reincarnation, and the Reformulation of Tibetan Legal Culture”

October 28 (Friday)
Fuchsia Dunlop (Food writer and photographer)
Speaking about her new book Land of Fish and Rice

November 9 (Wednesday)
Andrew Schonebaum, University of Maryland
“Medicine and Vernacular Knowledge in Early Modern China”

December 5- CANCELLED
Harold Roth, Brown University
“Cognitive Attunement in the Zhuangzi”

We regret to announce that Harold Roth’s talk in the Asia in Depth series, scheduled for Dec. 5th, has been cancelled.  The next Asia in Depth talk will be that of Joanne Sunglim Kim, on January 26th.

January 26
Joanne Sunglim Kim, Dartmouth College
“Dalliances with Objects: Aspiration and Inspiration in the Art of Late Chosŏn Korea”

February 23
Terry Kleeman, University of Colorado
“Of Parishes and Priests: The Rise and Fall of Communal Daoism in Medieval China”

April 5
Kaiser Kuo
“China Online: A 20 Year Retrospective”

April 28
Yukio Lippit, Harvard University
“Japanese Emaki 絵巻 and Narrative Theory”

September 22
Madeleine Yue Dong, University of Washington, Seattle
“Looking for ‘China’ in Qing History”

Madeleine Yue Dong is Professor of History in the Department of History and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, Seattle.  She is the author of Republican Beijing: The City and Its Histories (University of California Press, 2003), co-editor of Everyday Modernity in China (University of Washington Press, 2006), and The Modern Girl Around the World (Duke University Press, 2008), editor of Beyond Area Studies: An Anthology of Western Scholarship on Modern Chinese History, (CASS Press, Beijing, 2013.  She is currently working on a book manuscript, Out of the Wilderness: Writing Histories of the Qing Dynasty.
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October 20
Adam Brookes
“Terra Very Bloody Incognita: Some Random Thoughts on Portraying China in Journalism and Commercial Fiction”

Adam Brookes is an award-winning foreign correspondent and the author of the novels ‘Spy Games’ (2015) and ‘Night Heron’ (2014) published by Little, Brown. For many years, he reported for BBC News from Washington, DC on American politics and the economy, with a special interest in defense and security stories. 
Before moving to Washington, Adam was the BBC’s Beijing Correspondent, based in China for six years. His first foreign posting for the BBC was to Indonesia as Jakarta Correspondent. He has covered the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq and has reported on assignment from many other countries including North Korea and Mongolia. He has been a regular panelist at events for senior officers of the US military, presenting on journalism and international affairs. 
Adam holds a B.A. in Chinese from the University of London. He and his family live in Takoma Park, Maryland. He is currently writing a third novel, and starting work on a piece of Chinese historical non-fiction. 
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December 15
Roberta Wue, University of California, Irvine
“Butchers and Vendors: Portraits of the Artist in Late Qing Shanghai”

Roberta Wue is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of California, Irvine.  Her research focuses on art, visual culture, and photography in nineteenth-century Qing China, with a particular interest in the rhetoric of the modern Chinese image and its relationships with its viewers.  She is the author of Art Worlds: Artists, Images, and Audiences in Late Nineteenth-century Shanghai (Hong Kong University Press & University of Hawai’i Press, 2015); other publications include essays on photography, painting, and art advertising in Ars Orientalis, Art Bulletin and Late Imperial China.
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January 25
Harold Roth, Brown University

“Cognitive Attunement in the Zhuangzi”
Harold D. Roth is professor of religious studies and founding director of the contemplative studies initiative at Brown University. He is a specialist in classical Chinese philosophy and textual analysis, the Daoist tradition, the comparative study of contemplative practices and results, and a pioneer of the academic field of contemplative studies, in which he created the first undergraduate concentration program at a major research university in North America. He has published six books and more than 50 scholarly articles in these area including Original Tao (Columbia, 1999), a translation and analysis of the oldest text on breath meditation in China, and “Against Cognitive Imperialism” (Religion East and West, 2008), a critique of conceptual bias in Cognitive Sciences and Religious Studies. He has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.
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February 23
Joel Andreas, Johns Hopkins University

“The Brief, Tumultuous History of “Big Democracy” in China’s Factories”
Joel Andreas is Associate Professor of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University.  He studies political contention and social change in contemporary China. His book, Rise of the Red Engineers: The Cultural Revolution and the Origins of China’s New Class (Stanford, 2009), analyzes the contentious process through which old and new elites coalesced during the decades following the 1949 Communist Revolution. He is currently investigating changing labor relations in Chinese factories between 1949 and the present, as well as recent changes in agrarian society.
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March 22
Becky Hsu, Georgetown University

“The Good Death: Present-Day Rituals, Blessed Happiness, and Family Lineage”
Becky Hsu is assistant professor of sociology at Georgetown University. Her research interests include China, religion, organizations, global aid and development. Becky is currently completing an ethnography on global development and interpretive framing, based on fieldwork on NGOs in rural China. She is also investigating how people define happiness in China today. She has published articles on microfinance, how to estimate the number of Muslims worldwide, international religion data methodology, religion and economic development, and faith-based organizations in the British Journal of Sociology, Journal of Development Studies, Social Science Quarterly, the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, and the International Scope Review. She received a B.A. in Sociology with ‘cum laude’ and distinction in the major from Yale University, M.A. with distinction and PhD from the sociology department at Princeton University.
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April 15
Raina Huntington, University of Wisconsin, Madison

“Maps for Splendid Journeys: The Board Games of Yu Yue (1821-1907)”
Rania Huntington is associate professor of Chinese Literature in the department of East Asian Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She received her doctorate from Harvard University in 1996. Her research interests focus on Ming and Qing dynasty narrative and drama, particularly the themes of memory and the supernatural. Representative publications include: Alien Kind: Foxes and Late Imperial Chinese Narrative (Harvard University Asia Center, 2003); “Ghosts Seeking Substitutes: Female Suicide and Repetition” (Late Imperial China 26.1); “Memory, Mourning, and Genre in the Works of Yu Yue” (Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 67.2); “The View from the Tower of Crossing Sails: Ji Yun’s Female Informants” (Nannü 12.1); and “The Captive’s Revenge: the Taiping Civil War as Drama” (Late Imperial China 35.2.) (new window)

September 18
Evan Osnos, China correspondent for The New Yorker, 2008-2013
“China in the Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith.”
From abroad, we often see China as a caricature: a nation of pragmatic plutocrats and ruthlessly dedicated students destined to rule the global economy—or an addled Goliath, riddled with corruption and on the edge of stagnation. What we don’t see is how both powerful and ordinary people are remaking their lives as their country dramatically changes. As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos was on the ground in China for years, witness to profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In his book Age of Ambition, he describes the greatest collision taking place in that country: the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party’s struggle to retain control. Osnos follows the moving stories of everyday people and reveals life in the new China to be a battleground between aspiration and authoritarianism.

October 21 
Erin Cline, Georgetown University, Department of Theology
“Families of Virtue: Why Chinese Philosophy Matters for Contemporary Public Policy and Social Change.”

A set of distinctive and fascinating theories concerning the unique and irreplaceable role of parent-child relationships during infancy and early childhood are found in the work of some of the most influential Chinese Confucian philosophers. These philosophers argue that the general ethical sensibilities we begin to develop during infancy and early childhood—and even during the prenatal period—are the basis for nearly every virtue and that parent-child relationships are the primary context within which this early moral cultivation occurs. They describe how and why parent-child relationships provide a foundation for our moral development and contend that early childhood development and cultivation within the family is not simply a private or purely ethical matter; it has a direct and observable impact on the quality of a society. In this talk, Erin Cline examines the reasoning of early Confucian philosophers on these matters and argues that they deserve the attention of policymakers and of all who wish to raise flourishing children today. In addition to highlighting the distinctive features of Confucian views on this topic (compared with the views of Western philosophers), she puts Confucian views into conversation with the best empirical work on early childhood in the social sciences. Drawing upon an extensive body of research in the social sciences that supports and can help us to further develop some of the central tenets of ancient Confucian views concerning parent-child relationships, Cline seeks to renew and strengthen ancient Chinese philosophy for our own times, arguing that many of the views and specific practices advocated by Confucian philosophers are defensible and worth developing in a contemporary setting.

November 18
Matt Sommer, Stanford University, Department of History
“Polyandry and Wife Sale in Qing Dynasty China”

In China during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), polyandry and wife sale were widespread survival strategies practiced by the rural poor in conditions of overpopulation, shrinking farm sizes, and worsening sex ratios. Polyandry involved bringing in an outside, single male to help support a family in exchange for sharing the wife; wife sale involved the transfer of a woman from one husband to another, to become the latter’s wife, in exchange for cash payment. These two practices represented opposite ends of a spectrum of strategies to mobilize the sexual and reproductive labor of women in order to supplement household incomes and maintain subsistence. If we take into account lived experience among the poor, no clear distinction can be drawn between marriage and the traffic in women in Qing China; similarly, the normative distinction between marriage and sex work that was basic to law and elite ideology cannot be sustained.

January 15 
Jessica Teets, Middlebury College, Political Science Department
“Civil Society under Authoritarianism: the China Model”

Despite the dominant narrative of the repression of civil society in China, Jessica Teets argues that interactions between local officials and civil society facilitate a learning process, whereby each actor learns about the intentions and work processes of the other. Over the past two decades, often facilitated by foreign donors and problems within the general social framework, these interactions generated a process in which officials learned the benefits and disadvantages of civil society. Civil society supports local officials’ efforts to provide social services and improve public policies, yet it also engages in protest and other activities that challenge social stability and development. This duality motivates local officials in China to construct a “social management” system – known as consultative authoritarianism – to encourage the beneficial aspects and discourage the dangerous ones. Although civil society has not democratized China, such organizations have facilitated greater dialogue between citizens and state as part of politics in an authoritarian system that normally lacks such channels for participation.

February 12
Michael Puett, Harvard University, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
“Ritual Substitutions: Theories of Ritual from Classical China”

March 17
Tsering Shakya, Canadian Research Chair in Religion and Contemporary Society in Asia at the I 3 nstitute for Asian Research, University of British Columbia 
“Why the Golden Urn? Qing use of the Trulku Selection System in 18th Century Tibet and Mongolia”
In 1792 Emperor Qianlong introduced the Golden Urn (Lottery) system for the selection of high ranking Tibetan and Mongolian Trulkus, (reincarnate lamas). Recently, the PRC government used the Golden Urn for the selection of the 11th Panchen Lama in order to demonstrate China’s claims of sovereignty over Tibet. Most studies focus on when the Golden Urn method was used; in this talk, Tsering Shakya will examine the reason why this method of selection was used.

April 16
Tian Xiaofei, Harvard University, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations
“‘Poetry as Evidence’: Fragmentation of Self and Discourse in the Nineteenth Century.”

May 7
Special Event for the Georgetown China-studies community
Stay tuned!