The Power of Culture: Encounters between China and the United States
China and the United States, two massive economic and military powers, cannot avoid engaging with each other. Enjoying what is often termed “the most important bilateral relationship in the world”, the two sometimes cooperate, but often compete, as their interests come into conflict. Both countries are separated not just by the Pacific Ocean, but also by their very different histories, experiences, societies, customs, and outlooks. Non-governmental, unofficial relationships and exchanges are often as important as formal dealings in determining the climate of Sino-American relations. For several decades in the mid-twentieth century, Chinese and Americans were virtually isolated from each other, trapped in icy hostility. Chinese scholars are now making up for lost time. This assortment of essays, most by mainland Chinese academics and students, focuses upon the role of culture – very broadly defined – in Sino-American affairs. Taking a holistic approach, in this collection over thirty authors focus on such topics as the influence of ideology, the impact of geopolitics, the use of rhetoric, soft power, educational encounters and exchanges, immigration, gender, race, identity, literature, television, movies, music, and the press. Cultural factors are, as the authors demonstrate, enormously significant in affecting how Chinese and Americans think about and approach each other, both as individuals and at the state level.
Priscilla Roberts is Associate Professor of History at the University of Hong Kong, where she has taught since 1984, and is also Honorary Director of the university’s Centre of American Studies. She has published numerous articles on twentieth-century diplomatic and international history, with a special interest in Anglo-American and Asian-Western relations. She is the author, editor, and co-editor of twenty-three books, including The Cold War (2000); Window on the Forbidden City: The Chinese Diaries of David Bruce, 1973–1974 (2001); Behind the Bamboo Curtain: China, Vietnam, and the World Beyond Asia (2006); and Lord Lothian and Anglo-American Relations, 1900–1940 (2010).
"[T]his is a significant corpus of works pertaining to the encounter between China and America in general and their cultural power play in particular. The strength of such an anthology is its scope, offering readers a wide ranging perspective on the subject at hand. On this account, The Power of Culture: Encounters between China and the United States is a good resource for students as well as scholars researching on the Sino-US relationship and their soft power contestation specifically. [...] [T]his title remains, all in all, a body of commendable scholarship and a valuable contribution to the existing literature."
Peter T.C. Chang Institute of China Studies, University of Malaya International Journal of China Studies, 7:3 (2016)
"In this fascinating and entirely original collection, a wide variety of international scholars show how crucial historical and cultural factors have been – and continue to be – in framing American understanding of China, and indeed Chinese perceptions of the United States. Policy-makers and scholars alike will not only learn much from reading this fine book, but will also be able to understand why the relationship is bound to remain a complicated and no doubt difficult one well into the 21st century. A major contribution to the field of International Relations and International History."
Professor Michael Cox Director, LSE IDEAS
"Many of these essays, in articulating the Chinese scholarly view of America, help to deepen the non-Chinese reader’s awareness of the historical lens and current perspective of Chinese academics and government leaders. At the same time, they remind us how frequently and un-self-consciously political analysts attribute to other countries and cultures a set of characteristics that are shared by most major world powers, especially the conviction that our values and geopolitical needs trump those of others, requiring constant vigilance in resisting those outside our borders. [...] The impact of the American Studies Network and its annual conferences shines thru in the essays by younger scholars with important new perspectives to share. Roberts has done them and the field of American Studies in China a great service in editing this fascinating collection of essays."
Peggy Blumenthal Senior Counselor to the President of the Institute of International Education; Chair of the Board of JCIE-USA (Japan Center for International Exchange) H-Diplo Essay No. 145 (20.12.2016)
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