Center for Asian American Studies
Center for Asian American Studies

Conference: "Trans-Pacific China and the Cold War," April 18-19, 2013

Thu, April 18, 2013 | AT&T Center, 1900 University Ave., UT Campus

2:00 PM - 4:30 PM

This conference brings together an international, interdisciplinary grouping of scholars from Hong Kong, Taiwan, England, the US, and Canada to consider new research highlighting cultural and social productions emerging from diasporic Chinese amidst the political fissures of the Cold War. We plan to publish an anthology of our reframing of this era through an academic press.

This conference explores the Cold War politicization of overseas Chinese communities extending from Hong Kong to Taiwan, the U.S., and Southeast Asia through cultural, refugee, and exchange programs intended to divide them into either the communist or "free" world in terms of allegiance but also mobility. As with other parts of the globe, these communities expanded with influxes of many refugees leaving newly Communist areas. For example, by 1952 over 40 percent of Hong Kong's population consisted of escapees from the Communist revolution of 1949.

These communities became important sites of cultural Cold War production in the global contest for the "hearts and minds" of Chinese people throughout the Pacific region. Refugee relief outreach, educational programs, and cultural products such as cinema, popular literature, and print journalism with political aims emerged from both the PRC and Taiwan as well as US-supported organizations based in Hong Kong and Chinese communities in American and Southeast Asian cities. Through such programs and activities, both Communist and "free" world powers courted the support of overseas Chinese by representing the superiority and superior inclusiveness of their respective political and economic ideologies--hence the themes of intimacy but also of alienation--as many ethnic Chinese found themselves unable to conform or adjust. Both sides tried to demonstrate political, social, and cultural commensurabilities to populations of refugees who oftentimes were traumatized by their loss of home, families, and friends and took a while in order to re-establish, if at all, a new sense of rootedness and belonging. Bringing together literary, cultural studies, and historical scholars from the US, Canada, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, this conference tracks the reconfiguration of Chinese diaspora across the Cold War's bifurcated politicization of mobility, cultural flows, and the politics of options for resettlement that produced new formations of ethnic and national identity, community, and transnational activity so characteristic of the twenty-first century world.

Co-convened by:
Madeline Y. Hsu, UT Austin
Poshek Fu, The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
Hon-ming Yip, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Program and Presenters:




Sponsored by:
UT Austin's Institute for Historical Studies, College of Liberal Arts,
Center for Asian American Studies, Department of Asian Studies, Taiwan
Studies Program, Center for East Asian Studies.
And by The Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation and Taiwan Academy.

Free and open to the public, but registration is required. Optional lunch may be purchased - see web site for details.

Thursday, April 18th

Orphans of Empire: Refugees
2:00 - 4:30 p.m.
Chair and Commentator: Jeremi Suri
(UT Austin)

Madeline Hsu (UT Austin): "Aid Refugee Chinese Intellectuals, Inc. and the Political Uses of Humanitarian Relief, 1952-1962"

Born in Columbia, Missouri, Madeline Y. Hsu grew up traveling between Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Arkansas. She is currently an associate professor of history and director of the Center for Asian American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. The author of Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home: Transnationalism and Migration between the United States and South China, 1882-1943 (2000), she also coedited, with Sucheng Chan, Chinese Americans and the Politics of Race and Culture (2008), and edited Chinese American Transnational Politics (2010), which features articles by the pioneering Chinese American historian Him Mark Lai. Her ongoing research projects explore ethnic food and entrepreneurship, the entwining of U.S. foreign relations with immigration law and racial ideologies, contemporary Taiwanese history, Cold War refugee migrations and brain drains, and the emergence of the model minority.

Glen Petersen (University of British Columbia): "Cold War Complications: The ‘Problem’ of Chinese Refugees in Hong Kong and What to Do with Them"

Glen Peterson is professor of Chinese history at the University of British Columbia. His interests include the history of Chinese transnationalism, overseas Chinese and the modernization of China, and the international refuge regime in postwar Asia. His most recent book is Overseas Chinese in the People’s Republic of China (Routledge, 2012).

Dominic Yang (University of British Columbia): "Cold War, Education, and Transnational Mobility: Nationalist Refugee Relief Program and the Rennie’s Mill Community in Hong Kong, 1950s-1980s"

Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang is a PhD candidate with the History Department of UBC in Vancouver Canada. He specializes in the political and social history of modern China, modern Taiwan, Japanese colonialism, Cold War historiography, and Chinese diaspora. Dominic successfully defended his dissertation entitled The Great Exodus: Sojourn, Nostalgia, Return, and Identity Formation of Chinese Mainlanders in Taiwan, 1940s-2000s in August 3, 2012, and will obtain his degree by September 2012.

Helen Zia (journalist):  "Faces of Exodus: Oral Histories of Shanghai Migrants to Hong Kong, Taiwan and U.S."

Helen Zia is an American journalist and scholar who has covered Asian American communities and social and political movements for decades. She entered Princeton University in the early 1970s and was a member of its first graduating class of women. As a student, Zia was among the founders of the Asian American Students Association.  She is the author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, a finalist for the prestigious Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize. She is also co-author, with Wen Ho Lee, of My Country Versus Me, which reveals what happened to the Los Alamos scientist who was falsely accused of being a spy for the People's Republic of China.  Zia is former Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, books and anthologies. She was named one of the most influential Asian Americans of the decade by A Magazine.

6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Garrison Hall, Portico at the west/main building entrance. MAP
Reception is free and open to public, but RSVP is required.
Please RSVP by Tuesday, April 16 to Courtney Meador.

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