China and Inner Asia
2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. In reviewing the seventy years of China under the CCP, this panel honors the memory of late Professor Roderick MacFarquhar, whose studies on the Cultural Revolution, among many other writings, provided a firm foundation of historiography and transformed our understanding of the entire course of post-1949 Chinese politics. In addition to scholarship, MacFarquhar always went out of his way to support generations of scholars from China to collect, document, translate, and analyze primary source materials so that the memories of ordinary Chinese people would not be obscured behind the grandiloquent narratives of official history.
Our interdisciplinary roundtable will engage the audience in critical examination of major historical events and their contested memories across different periods of the trajectory of the PRC. Yongyi Song, librarian, professor, and editor-in-chief of the Chinese Political Campaigns Database, will discuss his scholarship on the Cultural Revolution and the signal role that MacFarquhar played in the development of the world’s largest database on Mao’s China; Guo Jian, Professor of literature and co-translator of Tombstone and How the Red Sun Rose, will focus on the Great Famine and the Anti-Rightist campaign, and the challenges of collaboration with historians inside China to keep those memories alive; Rowena Xiaoqing He, China-born Canadian historian specializing in the 1989 Tiananmen Movement, will share her reflections on researching and teaching the taboo subject, and MacFarquhar’s indispensable role in her creation of the Tiananmen curriculum; Adi Ignatius, former Beijing Bureau Chief of the Wall Street Journal and co-editor of Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang will add his perspectives on how MacFarquhar, who himself had been a journalist, supported journalists reporting on China. Vera Schwarcz, historian of Modern China, will chair the session. The panel will end with a discussion of the ongoing contest between state-imposed interpretations of history and the independent pursuit of historical knowledge, and its implications on China’s future and its relationship with the rest of the world.