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Maura Elizabeth Cunningham's Articles

Q&A with Denise Y. Ho, Author of Curating Revolution: Politics on Display in Mao’s China

Denise Y. Ho is assistant professor of history at Yale University and a specialist in modern China. She recently published her first book, Curating Revolution: Politics on Display in Mao’s China (Cambridge University Press, 2018), an examination of the exhibitionary culture of the People’s Republic between 1949 and 1976. In Curating Revolution, Ho explores different ways that exhibitions brought revolution to the masses and taught Chinese Communist Party (CCP) narratives about the past, present, and future to them. The six case studies of Curating Revolution are all located in Shanghai—itself a living exhibition, a former treaty port undergoing a socialist transformation under CCP oversight, and thus the embodiment of the contrast between the pre-1949 Old Society and Mao’s New China. Visitors to Zhabei District’s Fangua Lane, for example, toured both thatch huts that had provided shelter to the area’s dwellers in the late 1940s and modern five-story apartment buildings c ...

When Are We Going Back to Hawaii? And Other Conference Site Selection Questions

Since joining the AAS staff in late 2016, I’ve noticed that the question I hear most frequently from association members is “When are we going back to Hawaii?” The 2011 conference in Honolulu, a joint meeting with the International Convention of Asia Scholars, attracted over 5,000 participants and exhibitors and remains an AAS highlight for both attendees and staff. Trust me—my Secretariat colleagues and I are just as eager to return to the Waikiki beaches as you are. But the decision of where to hold our annual conference is a complicated one and involves weighing multiple variables, not all of them obvious. For a future AAS conference to be held in Hawaii—or New York, or Austin, or any of the other locations our members ask for—a lot of stars need to come into alignment. (I should note that the process described below only applies to our North American conference; the site selection for AAS-in-Asia depends far more on finding a strong local university to serve a ...

Learn from My Past Mistakes: Tips for First-Time AAS Attendees

My first time attending an AAS conference was in 2010, when I was a second-year PhD student, and I’ve only missed two since then. Even before I began working for the association, I frequently told people that AAS is my favorite scholarly meeting: it’s my intellectual home and also gives me the chance to catch up with friends whom I might only see once every few years. But much as I enjoy AAS, I’ve also found that it’s easy to burn out before the conference is half over (this is especially true if, like me, you’re an introvert—four days of social interactions can be wearing). There are plenty of guides out there that offer advice on conference networking, presenting, and other professionalization topics, so I won’t duplicate those recommendations here. Instead, I’m sharing a few tips and strategies that I’ve developed over the years to keep my energy levels high throughout the weekend and thus have the best AAS experience possible: 1. Pack lots of snac ...

Visit the Freer|Sackler During AAS 2018

For scholars of Asian Studies, no trip to Washington, D.C. is complete without a visit to the Freer|Sackler, the Smithsonian’s museums of Asian art. We anticipate that many AAS 2018 conference attendees will make time to hop on the Metro and ride down to the National Mall, where they will find a newly renovated Freer|Sackler and a number of special exhibits. The Smithsonian Metro stop is practically on the doorstep of the Freer Gallery of Art, which houses a permanent collection assembled by Detroit industrialist Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919). Freer had diverse artistic interests, and the Freer Gallery displays works from China, Korea, Japan, the Islamic World, and South Asia. The Freer is also home to the spectacular Peacock Room, designed for a London mansion in the 1870s by James McNeill Whistler and later transported to the United States by Freer. A connecting passage links the Freer Gallery with the below-ground Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (entrance to the Sackler is also possible via the pavi ...

The Road to Sleeping Dragon: Learning China from the Ground Up – A Q&A with Author Michael Meyer

Michael Meyer’s 2008 debut book, The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed, recounted his time spent living in the crowded hutong alleyways of China’s capital during the run-up to that year’s Olympics. In 2015, he published In Manchuria: A Village Called Wasteland and the Transformation of Rural China, which picked up Meyer’s story as he moved to his wife’s hometown in the countryside and immersed himself in the history of the country’s northeast region. In a new book, The Road to Sleeping Dragon: Learning China from the Ground Up, Meyer circles back to his first days in China, when he arrived in 1995 as a 23-year-old Peace Corps volunteer who couldn’t use chopsticks, spoke no Chinese, and “knew little about the country beyond the Great Wall, pandas, one billion people, fortune cookies, and the indelible image of a man standing in front of a tank.” The Road to Sleeping Dragon follows Meyer as he finds his footi ...

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