Last May 5 (2018), I was invited to participate in the Li Ka Shing Foundation Workshop at UC Berkeley, California. The workshop was organized by Brooks Jessup and gathered close to twenty graduate students from UC Berkeley and Postdoctoral scholars from various universities in California (UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Stanford).
The program covered a wide range of topics, from the publishing strategies of the Shanghai Medical Association to the transnational background of Khmer leaders, including a comparative study of an Vietnamese remake of P. Boule’s Planet of the Apes or the environmental history of fengshui in Sichuan’s rural communities. On the whole, I was impressed by the high quality of presentations and in-between discussions. The closing discussion highlighted the emphasis placed on networks and global circulations by this new generation of scholars, and the general trend toward a more social and material approach to East Asian studies, probably in reaction to cultural and linguistic approaches that still prevail among the previous generation.
My own paper traced the birth of professional advertising in modern China through the case study of the first leading Chinese agency (China Commercial Advertising Agency) and its founder C.P. Ling. The draft and Powerpoint of my paper are available here.