Our semester is rapidly nearing its conclusion. The payoff has been clear in the excellent presentations offered by our workshop colleagues in research presentations these past two weeks. It’s been wonderful to see how presenters have offered analytical insights and new lines of inquiry that transcend a particular topic — indeed, the shared issues that different research projects have invoked are striking.

Our last (but not least!) four research presentations will happen this Monday evening. We’ll also take some time to sketch out where we’ve come in the course. Central questions for the conversation:

– What are the key insights we’ve obtained in our study of the People’s Republic these last 14 weeks? One way to begin to answer this question may be to explore those that have, indeed, arisen in multiple conversations and in the context of diverse research projects.

– Given the insights our research has offered, what are the next questions we should raise?

– As a global audience gears up to watch the Olympic Games hosted by Beijing this summer of 2008, what information about China do you think is most likely to be overlooked amidst the coverage — and is most important for an understanding of China today?

Finally, cheers out to our workshop group for the great job you’ve done this semester. You’ve offered a consistently engaged and creative discussion, one that began with the critical exploration of a textbook narrative and which has nicely developed with your own contributions to a nuanced understanding of history. Bravo!

China and the Environment

A very interesting new blog has arrived: China Environmental Law . The blog is composed by Charlie McElwee, an international energy and environmental lawyer who lives and works in Shanghai.

The blog was just begun in March, but already there are some very informative entries on renewable energy, water pollution, and China’s 11th "Five-Year Plan for Environmental Protection," among other topics. See also the helpful sidebars on the site for links related to the environment and law as well as english-language documents (including the Five-Year Plan just mentioned) that have been produced by the PRC state.

The blog makes for a very productive combination of first-hand commentary from an expert, valuable links, and primary documents themselves. Enjoy!

What do Jan and Dean have to do with it?

A segue, of sorts, has arisen amidst the news of the day – see Kyle’s thoughtful discussion of recent events in Tibet and Ben’s presentation of the Xinhua coverage for starters – and our exploration of music from the reform period.

It seems the Icelandic pop chanteuse Bjork recently frustrated state censors by invoking Tibet during a performance on a Shanghai stage. Historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom offers more on that event in an interesting exploration of the “politics of pop concerts” in China, including detail on the Rolling Stones and Jan and Dean’s own experience in the PRC… Head over to the excellent “China Beat” blog for more.

Music as History

What insights can be found in the shared sound of another place and moment?

How do we, as students of history, use music as a primary source upon which to build an analysis?

We’ll be exploring these questions and more in our workshop meeting after Spring Break, Monday 3/10 at 6:00 pm.

Meanwhile, Rebeccca has assembled a great collection of youtube links of music video to accompany the texts and build on the sound samples we have listed at Matthew Corbin Clark’s page. To put sound and image together with artists mentioned in our reading assignments, just click the top link above…

Remember our assignments for the meeting – including both an analysis of a work of music (bring a sample for listening, either via compact disk or web-link) and a presentation of an update on your research project. See our syllabus for more.

From Abattoir to Arthouse…

Does “creativity” also belong to a discourse of the “developing nation”? See this video for commentary on that issue, as well as a look at art, architecture, and the market splash of a reinvented space in today’s Shanghai:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/YJGoFp8fOec" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]Video source: Danwei TV’s “The Shanghai Beat”