The Cold War in Asia: Beyond Geopolitics and Diplomacy
An international workshop organized and sponsored by
Centre for Chinese Studies, University of Manchester (Liu Hong & Zheng Yangwen)
Department of East Asian Languages and Civilization, Harvard University (Michael Szonyi)
School of Humanities, Sun Yat-sen University (Chen Chunsheng)
To be held on 1 – 2 November 2007 at
Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou (Canton), China
The Cold War is often seen as a story of international diplomacy and competition, largely the preserve of bureaucrats and generals. Recent research has begun to challenge this view, by exploring how international geopolitics mattered to individuals and communities in different societies, and how traces of this interaction persist in the present. New work explores the quotidian consequences of geopolitical conflict: how the Cold War remade the social, economic and political lives of people in different societies. Recent studies of the Western world have taken a “cultural turn”, with interest in how issues such as gender, race and popular culture were shaped by geopolitical conflict. Scholarship on Latin America, in particular, has begun to explore how the Cold War interacted with other, sometimes long-standing, local and regional conflicts and processes such as nationalism and decolonization.
With some exceptions, research on these issues in Asia has lagged behind that of other parts of the world. The gradual release of relevant archives in several countries and territories of the region, including the PRC, Cambodia, Vietnam, and South Korea, makes the time ripe for a re-evaluation of the Cold War and its impacts in Asia. How did the global Cold War complicate the unresolved national conflicts of the region and the unfinished business of the Chinese civil war? How was the Cold War perceived and experienced by ordinary Asians in their localities? What were the cultural consequences of the larger conflict in Asian societies? What are the social and material legacies of the conflict? Can study of the earlier period help explain the impact of continued American military presence in the region? These are among the questions that we, the organizers, have asked in our own research.
The study of the Cold War has flourished in the West as we can see from the works of John Gaddis and others. But scholars in the Asia region and around the world have just begun to explore its Asian variations as archives have slowly become available. The Cold War in Asia was different than in Europe. It became hot with real wars in Korea and Vietnam. As Chen Jian has argued, in some ways Asia and specifically China was at the centre of the Cold War. The Asian theatre was complex and dynamic as geopolitics and ideological differences were intertwined with historical links and cultural ties. Since Akira Iriye pioneered the field, too few scholars have explored the Cold War in Asia from Asian perspectives. The cultural and social dimensions of this global and regional conflict have also been neglected. The goal of this conference is to challenge the conventional wisdom on the Cold War and launch the study of the Cold War in Asia from an Asian perspective that may include such major themes as: (1) the propaganda and print war, (2) Ping pong and other styles of “soft” diplomacy, (3) the social and material legacy, civilian mobilization for example, and (4) Americanization or Westernization of Asian popular culture.
The organizers of the conference aim at publications in English with a major North American University Press, and in Chinese with a major Chinese University Press. Inquiries and abstracts of no more than 250 words, plus 5 lines of biographical data, should be sent to Miss Catriona Dobson: Administrative Assistant, Centre for Chinese Studies, University of Manchester at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 15 April 2007. Selected paper givers will be notified by mid May. Local accommodations will be provided for paper presenters who are encouraged to look for their own travel funding before turning to the organizers for help.
S3.13 Centre for Chinese Studies
Humanities Lime Grove
University of Manchester
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