China and Inner Asia
In May 2019, Professor Daniel H. Bays (1942-2019), B.A. Stanford 1964, M.A. 1967 Michigan, and Ph.D. 1971 Michigan, passed away. The fields of modern Chinese history, Christianity in China, and the history of U.S.-China relations lost a wonderful thinker, leader and helper. “He has done so much for the field,” commented his co-editor, Dr. Ellen Widmer of Wellesley College.
As Dr. Bays’ insights continue to inspire new work from others, three generations of scholars gather on this memorial roundtable to reflect on his oeuvre, legacy, and extraordinary mentorship influencing multiple disciplines and areas of study. Chaired by Ryan Dunch at the University of Alberta, this roundtable follows the chronological sequence of Dan Bays’ publications to address two questions: How had Dr. Daniel H. Bays helped us to rediscover the complexity and variety of historical China that came with the new historiography of the 1970s and the concurrent end of Mao’s era? What are the new perspectives, research topics and findings that have been emerging as a result of his impact?
Through discussing Dan Bays’ earlier acclaimed work, Dong Wang assesses Bays’ approaches to key figures, such as Zhang Zhidong, and issues in modern China and U.S.-China relations.Taking a close look at Bays’ hugely influential book, Christianity in China, the Eighteenth Century to the Present (editor, 1996), Xi Lian explains why Bays was widely considered a pioneer in moving the study of Chinese Christianity beyond a focus on missionaries, foreignness, and “hoary generalizations about ‘Confucian society.’”From the perspective of American religion and history, Grant Wacker shares his working experience with Bays in their co-editing of the book, The Foreign Missionary Movement at Home: Explorations in North American Cultural History (2003). Focusing on Bays’China’s Christian Colleges: Cross-Cultural Connections, 1900-1950 (co-edited with Ellen Widmer, 2009), Steve Pieragastini discusses how Bays has helped with his own doctoral dissertation. To wrap up the roundtable, Jinhee Lee tells us how Bays’ generous mentorship along with his popular textbook, A New History of Christianity in China (2011), has shaped the way she teaches about Asia and develops an interdisciplinary Asian Studies program.