October 2 Event “Composer Portraits: Chou Wen-chung:” Photos


Photographs are now available from the October 2, 2014 event “Composer Portraits: Chou Wen-chung.” During the event, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute joined the Columbia University community in honoring the Chinese composer on his 91st  birthday at Miller Theater with an evening of musical performances of the composer’s works.

Chou, a protégé of French Modernist Edgard Varèse, studied at Columbia University and later joined the faculty, mentoring Chinese composers like Tan Dun, Bright Sheng, and Zhou Long.

Part of Miller Theater’s Composer Portraits series, which explores the works of living composers, the celebration began with a pre-show reception at the Columbia Alumni Center. The two-hour concert included performances of String Quartet No. 2 “Streams” (2003) by the Bretano String Quartet; Echoes from the Gorge (1989) by Talujon; and Ode to Eternal Pine (2009) by the New York New Music Ensemble. The evening included an onstage discussion between Chou and Fred Lerdahl, Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition, Department of Music, Columbia University.

The concert was co-sponsored by the Columbia University Department of Music; Fritz Reiner Center for Contemporary Music; the Dean of Humanities; Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures; and the Center for Ethnomusicology

See pictures of the event here. Read more about Chou Wen-Chung’s extraordinary life in The New York Times here





Conference: “Beyond Modernity: Understanding Change in China”



Madeleine Zelin, the Dean Lung Professor of Chinese Studies, has been a key member of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute community since joining Columbia’s faculty in 1979. In addition to directing the Institute from 1992-1993 and from 1995-2001, she has mentored generations of undergraduates, MARSEA students, and PhD students. During the 35 years that Professor Zelin has been teaching at Columbia, she has also gained international recognition for pioneering the study of Chinese legal and economic history.  

To honor Professor Zelin’s important contributions to our understanding of the roots of China’s business culture and legal practice, her colleagues and her former PhD students—many of whom are now leading historians of China—convened a conference at Columbia on September 19 and 20, 2014 titled “Beyond Modernity: Understanding Change in China.”

The conference, co-sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, The Columbia University Seminar on Modern China and the Department of History, brought scholars from around the world to campus in order to critically assess the concept of “modernity.” The topic of “modernity” was apt because Professor Zelin’s scholarship has demonstrated the limits of a stereotypical understanding of Chinese economic and legal actors as “pre-modern” and has questioned the validity of modernity-based periodizations and static notions of modernity itself.  Professor Zelin has passed this methodology along to her students, who, regardless of their fields of study, were trained to adopt the same attention for the detail, careful readings of sources, and distrust for meta-narratives.

“As a previous advisee, I can add that Matti is a great advisor for many reasons, including the fact that she lets students explore the topics they want with her direction, while other advisors tend to steer students toward their own areas of interest,” noted Margherita Zanasi, a professor at Louisiana State University. “This allows students to maximize their potential. It is also why her students can be found in such a large variety of research areas.  She always stresses the importance of sources, a habit that remains with us and strengthens our work. Despite the focus on sources, she always bring her students back to the basic question ‘Why is this important?’—keeping us focused on the main argument to develop it to its full potential. Personally, I have also found in Matti a lifelong friend and I am lucky to still be able to enjoy, and benefit from, discussing my research with her.”

Organized by Zanasi as well as by Fabio Lanza (University of Arizona) and Rebecca Nedostup (Brown), the conference brought together Professor Zelin’s students Daniel Asen (Rutgers), Li Chen (University of Toronto), Alexander Cook (UC Berkeley), Joshua Fogel (York), Arunabh Ghosh (Harvard), Sue Gronewold (Kean), Kristine Harris (SUNY New Paltz), Joan Judge (York), Josephine Khu (independent scholar), Elizabeth LaCouture (Colby), Weiwei Luo (Columbia), Georgia Mickey (Cal Poly-Pomona), Thomas Mullaney (Stanford),  Sarah Schneewind (UCSD), Harold Tanner (University of North Texas), Hui-yu Caroline Ts’ai (Academia Sinica), Xu Xiaoqun (Christopher Newport University), Benno Ryan Weiner (Appalachian State), and Peter Zarrow (University of Connecticut).

The conference also featured Professor Zelin’s friends and colleagues Robert Barnett (Columbia), Zvi Ben-Dor Benite (NYU), Myron Cohen (Columbia), Robert Gardella (US Merchant Marine Academy-Kings Point), Robert Hymes (Columbia), Rashid Khalidi (Columbia), Dorothy Ko (Barnard), Elizabeth Köll (Harvard),  Eugenia Lean (Columbia), Feng Li (Columbia), Benjamin Liebman (Columbia), Andrew J. Nathan (Columbia), Jonathan Ocko (North Carolina State), Peter Perdue (Yale), Haruo Shirane (Columbia), David Weiman (Barnard), and Chuck Wooldridge (Lehman College).


Madeleine Zelin


Eugenia Lean and Haruo Shirane


Elizabeth LaCouture, Dorothy Ko, Andrew J. Nathan, Kristine Harris, and Thomas Mullaney


Fabio Lanza


Margherita Zanasi and Robert Hymes


Rebecca Nedostup introduces the conference


Kristine Harris and Madeleine Zelin


Jonathan Ocko and Li Chen


Rashid Khalidi, Myron Cohen, Eugenia Lean, and Haruo Shirane


Reception in Room 918


Dorothy Ko


Li Feng, Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, Weiwei Luo, Robert Hymes, Georgia Mickey, Sarah Schneewind


Joan Judge, Sue Gronewold, Peter Perdue, Eugenia Lean, Hui-yu Caroline Ts’ai


David Weiman, Josephine Khu, Chuck Wooldridge, Fabio Lanza, Rebecca Nedostup


Robert Barnett, Joshua Fogel, Benno Ryan Weiner, Alexander Cook


Li Chen, Robert Gardella, Rebecca Nedostup, Margherita Zanasi, Arunabh Ghosh


Li Chen and Madeleine Zelin


Benjamin Liebman, Jonathan Ocko, Daniel Asen, Elizabeth Koll, Xiaoqun Xu


Discussion in Room 918


Reception in Room 918

October 8 Event “Around 1948: Human Rights & Global Transformation:” Video, Photos, and Audio



Photographs, audio, and video are now available from the October 8, 2014 event “Around 1948: Human Rights and Global Transformation.” The event featured Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University; Lydia H. Liu, Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University; Samuel Moyn, Professor of Law and History, Harvard University; and Deborah Nelson, Associate Professor of English, University of Chicago. Their discussion was moderated by Eugenia Lean, Director of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute and Associate Professor of Chinese History, Columbia University.

During the event, these scholars discussed the advent and the global impact of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Professors Khalidi, Liu, and Moyn wrote essays surrounding these issues in the Summer 2014 volume of Critical Inquiry titled Around 1948, which Professor Nelson edited with Brown University professor Leela Ghandi. To read an extended interview with Professor Liu about her essay on human rights pioneer P.C. Chang, please click here. 

The event was co-sponsored by the Center for International History, Critical Inquiry, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, the Department of History, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and the Middle East Institute.

Video of the complete event is available here: 

 “Around 1948” is part of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute’s Human Rights in East Asia and Beyond: Critical Perspectives series, a year-long critical examination of the issue of human rights which includes lectures and panel discussions. The next event in the series is “The North Korean Human Rights Conundrum” on Nov. 6, 2014.

For audio of the event on iTunes, please click here.











October 14 Event “Japan: East Asian Historical Thought in Comparative Perspective:” Photos and Audio



Photographs and audio are now available from the October 14, 2014 event “East Asian Historical Thought in Comparative Perspective: What History Is, Knows, Does: Japan.” The event, co-sponsored by the Department of History and the Japan Study Student Association, featured Narita Ryuichi, Japan Women’s University, Carol Gluck, George Sansom Professor of History at Columbia University, and Harry Harootunian, Senior Research Scholar at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute. 

Professors Gluck, Harootunian, and Ryuichi participated in a two-hour panel discussion on Japan. Their conversation, in English and Japanese, included a question and answer session with the standing room only audience and time for informal discussion over light refreshments.

This event was the first in a three-part series that explores the historical study of Japan, China, and the West in a comparative perspective. The second lecture, on China, is Tuesday, November 18 at 6 p.m. The talk features Viren Murthy of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

To listen to the panel discussion on Japan, please click here.



Oct. 3 Event “ASEAN Centrality & the ASEAN-US Economic Relationship:” Pictures and Audio




Photographs and audio are now available from the October 3, 2014 event “ASEAN Centrality & the ASEAN-US Economic Relationship.” The event, co-sponsored by APEC Study Center, featured Michael G. Plummer, Director of SAIS Europe and Eni Professor of Economics at The Johns Hopkins University, and moderator Hugh T. Patrick, Robert D. Calkins Professor of International Business Emeritus and Director of the Center on Japanese Economy and Business at Columbia Business School.

During the event, Professor Plummer presented the central arguments of his new co-authored book titled ASEAN Centrality and the ASEAN-US Economic Relationship. The book considers Asia-Pacific economic integration from the perspective of ASEAN–the Association of Southeast Asian Nations–in the context of the new regionalism in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The term ‘ASEAN centrality’ represents both a goal – the vision of a united ASEAN acting collectively – and the means to achieve it – the expectation that members will coordinate policies, in order to improve welfare,” said Plummer. Given the member countries’ diverging economic and political interests, this goal is difficult to realize; however, Plummer argues that the “potential benefits provide an important incentive to pursue an ASEAN-centric approach.” In addition, Plummer outlined how the success of ASEAN would also benefit its main dialogue partners, including the US and China.

To listen to the lecture, please click here.





Oct. 1 Event “Inside the Contemporary Chinese Art Market:” Pictures and Audio



Photographs and audio are now available from the October 1, 2014 event “Inside the Contemporary Chinese Art Market.” The event featured Ethan Cohen, President and CEO of Ethan Cohen Fine Arts in New York, and moderator Dorothy Ko, Professor of History and Women’s Studies at Barnard College. The event, co-sponsored by the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, is part of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute’s new Museums & Material Culture: East Asia lecture series. 

The 90-minute discussion included a look at artwork from premier Chinese artists like Ai Weiwei as well as up-and-coming artists.

“Chinese art does not have to be political,” said Cohen who pointed out that art is very localized; the Chinese art markets in New York and Hong Kong, for example, can be completely different.

Professor Ko moderated a Q&A session with the audience which included insights into how Cohen looks for the artists he represents. He does research but also reaches out to colleagues, friends, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, artnet, and artprice.

“Any success of an Asian artist is a success for all artists,” said Cohen.

The Museums & Material Culture: East Asia lecture series aims to engage New York-based museums, galleries, and art institutions and their key players, experts, and artists in conversation about a variety of issues and topics, from museum anthropology to collecting and selling art. The next lecture in this series is on calligraphy and will be held Feb. 26, 2015.

To listen to the lecture, please click here.

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September 24 Event: “Xi Jinping’s ‘Coup From the Top:’ Anti-Corruption and Political Reform:” Photos and Audio



The Weatherhead East Asian Institute launched its Human Rights in East Asia and Beyond: Critical Perspectives series on Sept. 24 with the first of four lectures by Li Weidong, Visiting Scholar at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. “Xi Jinping’s ‘Coup From the Top:’ Anti-Corruption and Political Reform” was a candid look at anti-corruption and political reform in China. The 90-minute talk, presented in Mandarin, was translated and moderated by Andrew J. Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Columbia University. The session concluded with a 30-minute question-and-answer session from the standing room only audience.

To listen to the lecture, please click here.

The Human Rights in East Asia and Beyond: Critical Perspectives series is a year-long critical examination of the issue of human rights which includes lectures and panel discussion. The next event in the series is on Monday, October 6. Li will speak on “Before and After the 19th Party Congress: Political Trends in Xi Jinping’s First and Second Terms.”