Conference title: Rethinking the Chinese Revolution: 1911 in Global Perspective
Convener: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM)
Venue: Center for Korean Studies Auditorium, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Dates: March 28 to March 30, 2011
Conference Chair: Frederick Lau, Director, Center for Chinese Studies, UHM
Organizing Committee: Shana Brown, Committee Chair (History, UHM), Cathy Clayton (Asian Studies, UHM), Jiang Hui (East Asian Language and Literature, UHM)
On October 10, 1911, the revolutionary members of an army unit stationed in Wuchang, a suburb of the
central Chinese city of Wuhan, mutinied against local officials. Fearing preemptive arrest, the revolutionaries had acted precipitously. But after their victory, a chain of similar uprisings led to the capitulation of the Qing Dynasty. What began as a feeble insurgency resulted, in only a few short months, with the eradication of three centuries of Manchu rule and the establishment of the Republic of China.
Given its decisive end to the imperial system, the 1911 Revolution was a marked success that reverberated throughout Asia and the world. Yet at least in the short term, the revolution failed to achieve the broader objectives of territorial sovereignty, social and cultural development, and economic prosperity which motivated Sun Yat-sen and other advocates of republicanism. Instead, the events of 1911 launched a protracted struggle to accomplish these complex objectives. Its successes and failures—
whether temporary or long-lived--remain critical foundations for the institutions and ideologies of
modern China, and indeed, the world.
Conference in Commemoration of the 1911 Revolution
At the centennial of the revolution, the legacies of 1911 remain critical points of engagement for scholars, political actors, and their constituents both in China and abroad. Understanding the revolution
allows us to engage more fully with the shifting trajectories and meanings of Chinese modernity and the
Chinese nation. At the same time, the revolution was a world-historical event, inspiring similar struggles for social and cultural change in Asia and the world in ways that offered an important alternative to similar programs derived from the European enlightenment.
In recognition of the significance of the Revolution to China and the world, the UHM Center for
Chinese Studies plans a commemorative conference, preceding the 2011 national meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, that will bring together a diverse group of experts on Chinese history, politics, literature, anthropology, and law, among other fields from The People’s Republic, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia.
The goal of the conference is to consider the specific events of 1911 as well as the broader implications
of revolution and change in modern China, including its global impact. At its conclusion, members
of the conference will discuss the pedagogical implications of the 1911 Revolution. Participants in the
conference will be asked to contribute materials such as paper drafts, abstracts, and suggested reading
lists oriented towards undergraduate research and comprehension, with the goal of establishing a teaching-oriented website that will serve as an ongoing reference point for students and educators.
Hawai‘i and the Chinese Revolution
The state of Hawai‘i and its flagship university campus at Mānoa are a natural choice for a 1911 commemoration for several reasons, including the large concentration of Chinese-studies scholars at the
university and our close geographical and cultural ties to China. Of even greater significance, perhaps, is
the importance of Hawai‘i in the personal and political history of Sun Yat-sen. As a student and young
man, Sun Yat-sen spent close to a decade in Hawai‘i, attending local schools and establishing important
political and financial contacts within the local Chinese community. Indeed, the Chinese in Hawai‘i,
including Sun Yat-sen’s brother and family on Maui, provided critical support for the 1911 Revolution
and Sun’s subsequent political activities. At least one presentation for the conference will consider the
significance of the Chinese diaspora and Hawai‘i connection for Sun Yat-sen.
The planned panels for the conference highlight multiple facets of the 1911 Revolution, including its
implications for historical research, philosophy, politics and national memory, gender studies, world history, and pedagogy. These are areas where University of Hawai‘i faculty have made significant contributions, but also provide opportunities to bring together different perspectives from scholars throughout the global community. In this sense, the goal of the conference is to stress implications of the 1911 Revolution on a number of levels—as a historical legacy of Hawai‘i and its Chinese community; as a turning point for modern China; and as an event of global and world-historical implications.
Open to the public, all are welcome.
Tentative Conference Schedule and Confirmed Invited Speakers
March 28, 2011 (Monday) Attendees/presenters arrive
7:30 pm Opening remarks, Edward Shultz, dean of SPAS, Dinner. Keynote address: R. Bin Wong
March 29, 2011 (Tuesday)
8:30–10:00 Panel 1: “New Reflections on 1911 and its Historical Legacies.” Moderator: Edward Shultz
(UHM). Panelists: Shana Brown (UHM); Daniel Kwok (UHM); Jeffrey Wasserstrom
10:30–12:00 Panel 2: “The Idea of Revolution in 20th Century China.” Moderator: Hui Jiang (UHM).
Proposed Invitees: Zhang Xudong (NYU); Viren Murthy (University of Ottawa); Wang
1:00–3:00 Panel 3: “Nationalism, Historical Memory, and Democratization.” Moderator: Cathy Clayton
(UHM). Panelists: Allen Chun (Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica); Carole
Peterson (UHM); John Carroll (HKU).
3:15–5:15 Panel 4: “The Gender of Revolution.” Proposed Chair: Mingbao Yue (UHM). Panelists:
Christina Gilmartin (Northeastern); Yan Haiping (Cornell University); Amy Dooling
(Connecticut College); Tani Barlow (Rice University).
5:30 Reception at University Art Gallery, UHM. Exhibition: “The Reformer’s Brush: Modernity
and Traditional Media in China”. Curator, Kate Lingley (Art History, UHM).
7:00 Film Screening: “Autumn Gem (Qiu Jin): A Documentary on China’s First Feminist.” Rae
March 30, 2011 (Wednesday)
8:30–10:00 Panel 5: “1911 and its Global Context.” Moderator: Jerry Bentley (UHM). Panelists: Anthony
Reid (Australian National University); Zhongping Chen (University of Victoria);
Rebecca Karl (NYU).
10:30–12:00 Panel 6: “Teaching 1911: A Roundtable Discussion.” Moderator: Fred Lau (UHM). Panelists:
Selected participants from panels.
12:00–1:30 Lunch. Concluding remarks: Shana Brown (UHM)