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Talk: The Age of Openness: China before Mao
Date: 15 February 2008  (Friday)

Modern China Studies Seminar Series

"The Age of Openness: China before Mao"
Professor Frank Dikötter
Department of History, School of Humanities, HKU

Date: February 15, 2008 (Friday)
Time: 4pm to 6pm
Venue: G4, Tang Chi Ngong Building
Language: English

Kaifang, or 'opening up', has become such an inflated term of political propaganda that one tends to forget that prerevolutionary China, in many respects, was marked by a much higher degree of cosmopolitanism. As Professor Dikötter argues in his latest book, the period from 1900 to 1949 was characterised by engagement with the world at all levels of society, and the pursuit of openness was particularly evident in four areas, namely in governance and the advance of the rule of law and of newly acquired liberties; in freedom of movement in and out of the country; in open minds thriving on ideas from the humanities and sciences; and in open markets and sustained growth in the economy. The era between empire and communism is routinely portrayed as a catastrophic interlude in the country's modern history, but, as Professor Dikötter will explain during his talk, the first half of the twentieth century in fact witnessed a qualitatively unprecedented trend towards openness.

About the speaker:
Frank Dikötter is Professor of the Modern History of China at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong.  He obtained his PhD in History from SOAS in 1990 and became Professor of Modern Chinese History at SOAS in 2002. In its review of history courses a few years ago, the British newspaper The Independent identified his research as 'cutting edge' and named him as one of the fifteen historians in Britain it considered to be the 'stars' of the field (The Independent, 3 Aug. 2000). 

For further information, please contact Ms. Josephine Kwok at 2219 4208 or

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