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On the brink? Visiting academic to discuss research and Hong Kong

Saturday 22 February 2020 9:57am


On 5 March, University of California Irvine Chancellor’s Professor Jeffrey Wasserstrom will give an illustrated public talk focusing on patterns of protest and the tightening of political controls in Hong Kong.

In the presentation ‘Hong Kong on the Brink’ (5 – 6pm at Burns 2, Arts Building), Professor Wasserstrom will pay close attention to the 2014 Umbrella Movement but focus even more on the dramatic events of 2019, including the candlelight vigil held on the 30th anniversary of the June 4th Massacre that the speaker attended.

Vigil cover

Wasserstrom has been visiting Hong Kong regularly since 1987 and was last there in mid-December of last year, a visit that allowed him to watch the last march of 2019 involving a crowd of more than 100,000 people.

He will draw on his work as a specialist in the history of anti-authoritarian movements in various parts of the world, his work on global cities of Asia, and his work on twentieth-century Chinese student movements.

His talk will introduce ideas he explores in his book Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink (publishing 11 February 2020), while also bringing in things that have occurred since it was finished.

While at Otago he will also lead a workshop for staff and postgraduate students entitled “Between complicity and dissent: teaching, researching, publishing about China.”

Languages and Cultures Associate Professor Paola Voci says having Professor Wasserstrom at Otago will greatly enrich discussion in this area for the public, faculty and students alike.

“Not only is Jeff a great academic, he is a very engaging speaker who communicates the complexity of issues in a very accessible way. The lecture and workshop will provide insight for us across disciplines, and also for members of the public who may know a lot, or a little about his areas of expertise.”

Wasserstrom is a former director of the East Asian Studies Center at Indiana University and a past editor of the Journal of Asian Studies, his most recent book, aside from Vigil, is the co-authored third edition of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford 2018).

In addition to writing for scholarly periodicals, he is a regular contributor to newspapers (including the New York Times) and magazines (such as TIME). He has spoken at literary festivals, consulted on documentary films about the Tiananmen protests and the Umbrella Movement.

Professor Wasserstrom’s public and academic engagements are jointly supported by the Languages and Cultures, Politics and the Faculty of Law.