John Haddad: Avoiding ‘Cultural Arrogance’ With ChinaRoundup: Historians' Take
tags: China, Chronicle of Higher Ed., John Haddad, Sias International University, Opium War
John Haddad is an associate professor of American studies and popular culture at Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg. He is the author of America’s First Adventure in China: Trade, Treaties, Opium, and Salvation.
On a recent trip to China, I made a stop at Sias International University, in Xinzheng, Henan Province, to deliver a lecture on American popular culture. Sias is a relatively new private university that presents itself as an American-style college. Its founder, a local entrepreneur who made his fortune in the United States, believes in internationalism and in cooperation between China and the United States—so much so that he has infused the campus with this vision.
The effect is striking: It feels like a world’s fair. Touring the campus, I passed New York Street, Red Square, European Street, and Spanish Square. I wound up at the administration building, a bizarre Sino-American hybrid. After entering through its neo-Classical front, modeled on the U.S. Capitol, I found upon exiting that the building had morphed into the Forbidden City.
China’s current global turn marks the country’s second opening in the past 200 years. The first took place after the Opium War (1839-42). As someone who studies the history of Americans in China, I find it interesting to compare China’s earlier opening with the current one in the area of Sino-American intellectual exchange. Of course, the circumstances surrounding the two openings are quite different. The first was accomplished by British force and against China’s will; the second amounts to an act of self-determination on China’s part.
That said, China’s earlier opening does offer a lesson that could perhaps guide the numerous China-U.S. academic partnerships that have proliferated in recent years: Teachers should be learners....
comments powered by Disqus
- Trump just promised the biggest tax cut in history
- An African Diaspora group at Columbia University draped a KKK hood over Thomas Jefferson
- Documents show how CIA connived with Chilean publisher to overthrow Allende
- Is Trump right that he's signed more executive orders than FDR in his first 100 days?
- 500 Years After Expulsion, Sicily’s Jews Reclaim a Lost History
- Nathaniel Philbrick wins the $50,000 2017 George Washington Prize
- In an interview Jill Lepore explains how she writes and the writers she admires most
- Trump is no Hitler – he’s a Mussolini, says Oxford historian
- Rick Perlstein’s still drawing brickbats for his confession in the NYT that historians (like him) have misinterpreted modern conservatism
- “Historians are shockingly dismissive of people in ‘flyover country,’ ” says Pulitzer-winning historian T. J. Stiles