The Gate of Heavenly Peace film screening (April 12)
During the spring of 1989, nightly news accounts filmed in Tiananmen Square in Beijing enthralled viewers worldwide as they watched the largest popular demonstration in modern Chinese history unfold. The Gate of Heavenly Peace, a riveting and explosive three hour documentary, revisits these events and explores the complex political process that led to the protests and eventual Beijing massacre of June 4, 1989.
The Gate of Heavenly Peace was directed by Carma Hinton, who was born and raised in China, and Richard Gordon, who has been involved with many films about China as a director, producer of cinematographer. With an international group of scholars, as well as participants in the events of 1989, the filmmakers spent six years investigating this important and intriguing story.
Poetry Reading: Yang Lian (April 14)
Yang Lian will be introduced by Kelly Askew, Director of the African Studies Center, and moderated by Professor San Duanmu, U-M Dept. of Linguistics.
Yang Lian was born in Bern (Switzerland) in 1955, where his parents were in the diplomatic service, and grew up in Beijing. Like millions of other young people, he was sent to the countryside for re-education during the final years of the Cultural Revolution. After the death of his mother in 1976, Yang began to write poetry. Back in Beijing, as one of the leading experimental poets, he was associated with the underground literary periodical Jintian (Today).
Yang Lian is best known as a poet, but he also writes prose, literary criticism and art criticism. His work, which comprises half a score of poetry collections and two volumes of prose, has been translated into over twenty languages. It includes: Dead in Exile (1989), Masks & Crocodile (1990), Non-person Singular (1995), Yi (2002), Notes of a Blissful Ghost (2002) and Concentric Circles (2006). He is regarded as one of the most representative voices of present-day Chinese literature.
A recent passion and project of Yang Lian is to encourage the production and translation of poetry written in dialects of Chinese: Sichuan dialect, Shanghainese and Beijing dialect. There is currently no vehicle for writing poetry in these languages since Chinese orthography supports Mandarin only. Yang has been closely involved with a collective of Slovenian poets who, despite the small population of their country, support poetic production in nine Slovene dialects. He is currently working with Kelly Askew (U-M) and a formerly exiled Kenyan poet, Abdilatif Abdalla, on translating poetry composed in various dialects of Swahili into English and from English into dialect forms of Chinese. The idea is ultimately to produce a volume on ‘dialect poetry’, written in the shadows of dominant, politically powerful, languages (Mandarin and Standardized Swahili being but two examples).
Organized by the African Studies Center and co-sponsored by the Center for Chinese Studies, the International Institute, and the Confucius Institute at the University of Michigan.
Panel Discussion (April 15)
The final event of the week is a panel discussion with NPR journalist and 2014 Knights Wallace Fellow Louisa Lim, UC-Irvine historian Jeff Wasserstrom who has written extensively on Chinese student protests and related topics, and Professor Wang Zheng of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender and the UM History Department, an expert on modern Chinese history and gender politics. The panelists will discuss current research on the Tiananmen Movement, how the movement is remembered in and outside of China today, and the ways in which student activism have changed since 1989. The discussion will incorporate questions from the audience and will be moderated by CCS Director Mary Gallagher.
Louisa Lim has spent ten years in China, currently as NPR’s Beijing correspondent, and prior to that as the BBC’s Beijing correspondent. She has won numerous awards for her radio and multimedia work, and was part of NPR teams that won a Peabody, an Alfred I Dupont-Columbia award and two Edward R. Murrow awards for their China coverage. Currently she is a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. Her book “The People's Republic of Amnesia" will be published by Oxford University Press (USA) in June 2014.
Wang Zheng is Associate Professor of History and Women’s Studies and Associate Scientist of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender. A graduate student at the University of California, Davis 25 years ago, she took donations from the UC students to Chinese students at the Tiananmen Square. Her experience in Beijing in 1989 turned her a committed academic activist promoting feminism in China. She is the founder and co-director of the UM-Fudan Joint Institute for Gender Studies at Fudan University, Shanghai. Her English publications concern changing gender discourses and relations in China's socioeconomic, political and cultural transformations of the past century, and feminism in China, both in terms of its historical development and its contemporary activism in the context of globalization. She is the author of Women in the Chinese Enlightenment: Oral and Textual Histories (UC Press, 1999).
Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor’s Professor of History at UC Irvine, the Editor of the Journal of Asian Studies, and a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines. He is the author of China in the 21stCentury: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2010, updated edition 2013) and served as a consultant for "The Gate of Heavenly Peace," an award-winning documentary on the events of 1989.
Mary Gallagher is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she is also the Director of the Center for Chinese Studies, and a faculty associate at the Center for Comparative Political Studies at the Institute for Social Research. Her research areas are Chinese politics, comparative politics of transitional and developing states, and law and society. Her book Contagious Capitalism: Globalization and the Politics of Labor in China was published by Princeton University Press in 2005.