Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Chinese Ladies Empire Reform Association in Victoria, BC

Kang Tongbi founded this organization in 1903 in Canada, the US, and Hawaii. South Windsor Kang Tongbi collection.

In 1903, Kang Tongbi came to North America for six years of education and Baohuanghui organizing. She began her North American sojourn In Victoria and Vancouver/New Westminster, BC, where she founded two branches of a feminist-oriented Chinese Empire Ladies Reform Association. Like the regular Baohuanghui chapters, photo posters were produced showing the officers and their titles. Branches were formed in the Pacific Northwest, Honolulu, New York, and other cities in the Northeastern US. The members were mostly wives of Baohuanghui leaders. 

The poster celebrates heroic Western women like Joan of Arc who died for a cause and declares: "But, there are talented Chinese women who have come to the great land [the American continent?] and brought honor [to their country] wearing men’s clothes [boldly going out in the world as equals to men]."

Below is a translation by Hongmei Sun of George Mason University and Hu Ying of UC Irvine. A large format downloadable copy has been provided by Harvard-Yenching Library, which has  the same poster.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Kang Youwei as Utopian, Traveler and Politician: A Panel at the New England conference of the Association of Asian Studies, October 3-4, 2014

This year's New England regional Association of Asian Studies meeting is being held at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, October 3-4. Storrs is very near the small town of South Windsor, Connecticut, where Kang Tongbi lived from 1903 to 1907. Since we have been working with the large collection documents she left behind in South Windsor, we have organized the following panel.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The View from South Windsor: Kang Tongbi's Newly Discovered Cache of Documents, 1904-1905

Kang Tongbi, Victoria, BC, 1903

A new, on-the-ground picture of Kang Youwei’s first American sojourn in 1905 and the internal workings of the Baohuanghui is being revealed by a just-discovered collection of documents. Sold on eBay in fall 2013 by a New Hampshire auctioneer, the collection is now in a private collection owned by a Hong Kong investor. The collection will ultimately be published and exhibited in Beijing. The owner has provided scans of the materials to scholars associated with the book project, A Chinese Reformer in Exile: Kang Youwi and the Chinese Empire Reform Association in North America, 1899-1909 in return for documentation and analysis of the materials. We hope to share these documents in the future.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Best Review of Jung Chang's book on Empress Dowager Cixi

Jung Chang's latest book, Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine who Launched Modern China, has been treated all too gently by China scholars since it was released last year in Great Britain. In the United States, as elsewhere, the book leapt to the top of non-fiction best-seller lists.

Finally, the London Review of Books (April 17, 2014)  has published an unvarnished review of this book.  "In the Hornet's Nest" is by noted Qing history scholar, Pamela Crossley, Dartmouth College. Crossley is a rare expert on the Manchus and author of The Wobbling Pivot: China Since 1800. Crossley  reveals the full range of Jung Chang's dangerous distortions of the late Qing reforms and the workings of the Qing court. Crossley shows us how Chang's approach to archival sources has resulted in a book more resembling a novel than a history. This describes  Chang's characterization of Kang Youwei, "who was called ‘Wild Fox Kang’ as a young man because of his philosophical methods, though Chang inexplicably belittles him by giving him this name throughout," writes Crossley.

Read  Crossley's full review, which is published in Baohuanghui Scholarship with permission of The London Review of Books and Pamela Kyle Crossley.