This year marked the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, a chaotic decade of Chinese history made infamous in the West through books such as Wild Swans and Life and Death in Shanghai, which describe in horrific detail the suffering endured by millions of people.
Most histories of the period focus on violence committed by the Red Guards, the imprisonment of people in cow sheds and other terrifying acts, but Paul Clark's book examines the art of the era. For this episode of Sinica, he joined Jeremy in Auckland, New Zealand, to discuss the large number of new operas, plays, films and other creative works that emerged from the tumultuous time. You can read the SupChina backgrounder on the topics of their conversation here.
Paul is a pioneer in the academic study of Chinese films and was one of the first of three New Zealand students to go to Beijing on an official exchange for two years of study in the 1970s. He has published books on Maori history, Chinese cinema, Chinese youth culture, as well as The Chinese Cultural Revolution, which looks at the creation, dissemination and innovation of art, film, theater and architecture in China from 1966 to 1976.
Jeremy: Visiting Queenstown, New Zealand, and the surrounding mountains and lakes.
Paul: Red Sorghum, directed by Zhang Yimou.
Special thanks to Podcasts NZ for the use of their studio in Auckland.
Jim Millward is one of the world’s leading scholars on Xinjiang and Central Asia, and the author of many books and articles, including Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity, and Empire in Qing Central Asia, 1759-1864, and The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction, published by Oxford.
In this week’s Sinica Podcast, Kaiser and Jeremy talk to Jim about the myths and histories of the Silk Road and a continent’s worth of related subjects: Xi Jinping's signature effort to revive the Silk Road through the One Belt, One Road initiative; the mythological bird associated with Central Asia known as the Dapeng (大鹏), or Roc; the argument over the connection of extremism in Xinjiang to global jihadism; the Chinese policy on ethnic minorities; and academic debates over "New Qing History" and a number of other issues that are putting Central Asia back into its formerly central place in the story of the world's past.
This episode also features a special outro tune played by Jim and Kaiser.
Jeremy — books by Peter Fleming:
Kaiser: The Chinese immigrant hub of Flushing, Queens, in New York, as a subject of anthropological or cultural studies inquiry.
This episode of Sinica is a wide-ranging conversation with Cheng Li (李成), one of the most prominent international scholars of elite Chinese politics and its relation to grassroots changes and generational shifts. He discusses the historical rise and fall of technocracy, corruption and the campaigns against it, power factions within the Communist Party and the new dynamics of the Xi Jinping era.
Cheng Li has authored and edited numerous books and articles on subjects ranging from the politics behind China’s tobacco industry to the nature of collective leadership under Xi. He began his career as a doctor after three years of medical training in the waning years of the Cultural Revolution, then changed course in 1985 to study under scholars such as Robert Scalapino and Chalmers Johnson at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lynn White at Princeton University. He is the director of the John L. Thornton China Center and a senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, as well as a director of the National Committee on U.S.–China Relations.
Jeremy: Hugh White’s review of The Pivot: The Future of American Statecraft in Asia by Kurt Campbell and Kurt Campbell’s reply
Cheng: The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks by Joshua Cooper Ramo
In this episode of Sinica, Clay Shirky, the author of Here Comes Everybody who has written about the internet and its effects on society since the 1990s, joins Kaiser and Jeremy to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of China's tech industry and the extraordinary advances the nation has made in the online world.
The hour-long conversation delves into the details and big-picture phenomena driving the globe's largest internet market, and includes an analysis of Xiaomi's innovation, the struggles that successful Chinese companies face when taking their brands abroad and the nation's robust ecommerce offerings.
Clay has written numerous books, including Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream in addition to the aforementioned Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. He is also a Shanghai-based associate professor with New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and the school's Interactive Telecommunications Program.
Jeremy: Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont, and Modern China is So Crazy It Needs a New Literary Genre by Ning Ken
Clay: Internet Literature in China by Michel Hockx
Kaiser: A Billion Voices: China’s Search for a Common Language by David Moser