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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

The Chinese Lady: Afong May in Early America by Nancy E. Davis

Afong Moy on the 21st century stage

The story of Afong Moy, the first known Chinese woman on American soil, and the first Chinese person to come face to face with American audiences across the country has been told recently by both the historian Nancy Davis as well as the playwright LLoyd Suh. Davis explores Afong Moy’s life and the different lessons that can be learned through research as well as fictionalization.

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Charlie Brown's America

9 new books to explore our shared cultural history [reading list]

How did the Peanuts gang respond to–and shape–postwar American politics? How has a single game become a cultural touchstone for urban Chinese Americans in the 1930s, incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II, and Jewish American suburban mothers? Were 19th Century Brits very deeply bored? Cultural and social history bring to life the beliefs, understandings, and motivations of peoples throughout time. Explore these nine books to expand your understanding of who we are.

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1837

To know Russia, you really have to understand 1837

To know Russia, you really have to understand 1837. The assertion might seem strange. Even among historians of Russia, it is likely to produce head-scratching rather than nods of knowing approval. Most would point to other years—1613 and the birth of the Romanov dynasty; 1861 and the end of Russian serfdom; 1917 and the Bolshevik seizure of power—as more consequential. But in fact 1837 was pivotal for the country’s entry into the modern age and for defining many of Russia’s core attributes. Russia is what it is today, in no small measure, because of 1837.

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Defending God in Sixteenth-Century India

Beyond polemics: debating God in early modern India

The early modern period in India (roughly from 1550 to 1750) has been increasingly understood as a time of heightened religious self-awareness—the fertile soil from which Hinduism emerged as a unified world religion. Yet it was also a tumultuous period of intense rivalry across scholarly and religious communities.

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“Camping” with the Prince of Wales through India, 1921-22

As senior correspondent of the London Times, Sir Harry Perry Robinson travelled the world in search of a good story. In November 1921 he was invited by the newspaper’s proprietor, Lord Northcliffe, to make a passage to India, following the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) on his nearly five-month goodwill tour of the East. For […]

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Why an Irish Buddhist resisted empire in Burma

On 2 March 1901, during the full moon festival at Rangoon’s Shwedagon pagoda, the Buddhist monk U Dhammaloka confronted an off-duty colonial policeman and ordered him to take off his shoes. Burmese pagodas are stupas, containing relics of the Buddha, so wearing shoes on them (as white colonials did) was a serious mark of disrespect. […]

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Why Iran’s dependence on China puts it at risk

The depth of ties between China and Iran was revealed dramatically in late February 2020, when news broke that some of Tehran’s most senior officials had contracted the coronavirus. By early March, one of Iran’s vice presidents, the deputy health minister, and 23 members of parliament were reported ill. A member of the 45-person Expediency […]

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How China spurs global dissent

China’s rulers launched the New Silk Road venture—a trillion-dollar development campaign that is often compared to the Marshall Plan—to promote connectivity across what they believed to be poorly integrated regions of Eurasia and Africa. Much to their surprise, however, they discovered that many of these societies were already wired to the hilt—not by the infrastructure […]

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Beyond open defecation: a free, clean India

The Right to Sanitation in India: Critical Perspectives, edited by Philipe Cullet, Sujith Koonan, and Lovleen Bhullar, represents the first effort to conceptually engage with the right to sanitation and its multiple dimensions in India. We sat down with editor Philipe Cullet to analyse the contributions of the law and policy framework to the realisation of the right to sanitation in India, the place the book holds in the socio-political landscape, and its international and comparative relevance.

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Five fascinating facts about Leonard Bernstein and Japan

On 25 August 2019, which would have been Leonard Bernstein’s 101st birthday, the busy centenary year filled with performances, exhibitions, publications, and events comes to a close. Much of Bernstein’s status as a world maestro tends to be discussed in terms of his relationship to Israel and Europe, but once we turn our attention eastward […]

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From orientalism to ornamentalism

Recently, the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted an exhibit called China Through the Looking Glass. The exhibition’s spectacular and unabashed display of Orientalist commodification and appropriation charmed many and repelled others. The exhibition, extended months beyond its original schedule due to its enormous popularity, reminds us how enduring the so-called Asian fetish still is in western culture and how […]

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Happy Chinese New Year!

This year, the Chinese New Year begins today, February 5th, and people all around the world will be ringing in the year of the Pig.  Oxford Chinese Dictionary editor, Julie Kleeman, shares some insight into the traditions associated with the Chinese New Year celebrations.

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Three millennia of writings – a brief history of Chinese literature

Chinese scholars traditionally have considered the Han fu-rhapsody, Tang shi-poetry, Song ci-song lyrics, and Yuan qu-drama, as the highest literary achievements of their respective dynasties. However, Chinese literature embraces a far wider range of writing than these four literary genres. Explore a treasure trove that offers rich information about Chinese society, thought, customs, and social and political movements

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The history of Acupuncture [timeline]

With its roots stretching back to over 6,000 years BCE, Acupuncture is one of the world’s oldest medical practices. This practice of inserting fine needles into specific areas of the body to ‘stimulate sensory nerves under the skin and in the muscles of the body’ is used widely on a global scale to alleviate pain caused by a variety of conditions.

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How well do you know Confucius? [quiz]

This October, the OUP Philosophy team honors Confucius (551 BC–479 BC) as their Philosopher of the Month. Recognized today as China’s greatest teacher, Confucius was an early philosopher whose influence on intellectual and social history extended well beyond the boundaries of China. His lessons emphasized moral cultivation, stressed literacy, and demanded that his students be enthusiastic, serious, and self-reflective.

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