The China in the 1950s Network 
British Inter-University China Centre

The China in the 1950s Network, is a project funded by the British Inter-University China Centre (BICC) and is led by Dr. Jon Howlett from the University of York. BICC is a joint venture between Bristol, Manchester, and Oxford Universities. It is currently directed by Prof. Robert Bickers of the University of Bristol. It is funded in the period 2012-14 through the Language Based Area Studies Scheme by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

From 2006 to 2012, BICC oversaw the training of a cadre of new postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers, as part of a programme of national capacity enhancement in the field of Chinese studies. Chinese language capability lay at the heart of the programme. The aim was also to produce a body of original research, developed by all members of the BICC, which would then be disseminated both within the academic and wider communities through events, network building, and knowledge-exchange initiatives. In its current phase, the BICC supports a community of researchers which continues to expand as its former students move into lectureships at universities across the United Kingdom and overseas.

In July 2013 the University of York hosted a workshop titled ‘New Perspectives on the Chinese 1950s’ which brought together scholars from the UK, China, Europe, the United States and Australia. Together they engaged in discussion of new approaches towards the social history of the early years of Communist rule. While the field has seen great advances over the previous decade, the participants were in agreement that there was far more to be done as a community of collaborative scholars. Keynote papers were delivered by Prof. Yang Kuisong of East China Normal University, Shanghai, Prof. Karl Gerth of The University California, San Diego and Dr. Christian Hess, of Sophia University. Panel topics included:

‘Writing the 1950s’, Felix Wemheuer (University of Vienna) and Jennifer E. Altehenger (King’s College London)

Individuals and Institutions’, Xiaobing Tang (University of Michigan), Christine Vidal (Université Lille III), and Gordon Barrett (University of Bristol).

The Economy and Society’, Robert Cliver (Humboldt State University), Felix Boecking (University of Edinburgh), and Benno Weiner (Appalachian State University).

‘China and Japan in the 1950s’, Amy King (Australian National University) and Barak Kushner (University of Cambridge).

‘China’s Urban 1950s’, Karl Gerth (University California, San Diego), Christian Hess (Sophia University), Jiang Jin (East China Normal University).

Author: Jon Howlett