China and its people are a frequent feature of headlines in recent times, with a diverse array of topics being discussed. On Thursday morning, Indiana University Northwest took a step to help elevate the discourse in the community by hosting a roundtable seminar titled “China’s Diverse Homefront and Complex Foreign Relations.”
The free event was part of IU Northwest’s East Asian Studies Gateway, which seeks to introduce East Asia to the community on a cultural and practical level. Organized by Xiaoqing Diana Chen Lin, professor of history and East Asian Studies Gateway Coordinator at IU Northwest, and co-hosted by the Gateway and the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Northwest, the seminar saw an array of experts offer dives into topics such as Islam in China, women’s historical fights against patriarchy, US-China relations, and more.
“I hope that this seminar can provide a more factual, multi-faceted view of China,” said Chen Lin. “These talks might present new problems and new questions, rather than arguments or telling you how you should think. The big difference with universities compared to the political sphere is that we can discuss these topics in a more even-handed way without getting at each other’s throats.”
Chen Lin also thanked Mark Hoyert, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at IU Northwest, for supporting and sponsoring the event and Mary Hackett, the College of Arts and Sciences Director of Finance and Planning, for making everything possible. Sponsors for the event also included the IU Northwest Office of Diversity and Intercultural Affairs, IU Bloomington East Asian Studies Center, and the IU Northwest Women and Gender Studies Program.
The day’s speakers came from a variety of institutions, including a pair of Fulbright scholars – Professors Mashrur Hossain, a Fulbright scholar from Jahangirnagar University currently at IUN, PNW, and Ivy Tech, and Antonina Luszczykiewicz, a Fulbright scholar from Jiagiellonian University currently at IU Bloomington. The Fulbright program is a cultural exchange which fosters intercultural relations and diplomacy through scholarship and artistry.
Anja Matwijkiw, professor of philosophy at IU Northwest and Fulbright Senior Chair at Lund University in 2019-2020, introduced the two Fulbright speakers.
“I’m very excited, we have such a wide range of topics,” said Chen Lin. “Professor Hossain, for example, is discussing a rather obscure topic about Chinese women that shows the tenacity of these women throughout history.”
The seminar was open to the public and was also livestreamed via Zoom for those who could not make it in person.
“It’s really important to showcase to the community what we’re here to do, which is to provide information on current events and how they relate to all of our programs here at IU Northwest,” said Nicole Anslover, associate professor of History and adjunct associate professor, Women and Gender Studies, IU Northwest. “We want to open our campus up to the community and let people know we’re here for them. This seminar also shows our students that there’s more here than just coming to class; we have all of these wonderful opportunities.”
Anslover spoke at length about how US-China relations have evolved since President Richard Nixon ended years of diplomatic isolation with a visit to the People’s Republic of China in 1972.
“There’s been quite a few monumental events just in the last few weeks regarding US policy with China,” she said. “We’re doing a very contemporary look at the history of Nixon’s visit, why it matters, and how we can use it to understand current events.”
Michael Brose, Professor of Eurasian Studies at IU Bloomington and former director at the IU Bloomington East Asian Studies Center, spoke on the diversity of Chinese Muslims, and Yu Shen, Professor of History at IU Southeast, reflected on mutual perceptions of the US and China in history.
Mark Hoyert, dean of IU Northwest College of Arts and Sciences, praised Chen Lin for her efforts in coordinating the seminar and the East Asia Gateway as a whole.
“Having the East Asian Gateway broadens our understanding of the world,” he said. “She’s been a faculty member here for a long while, and spent her career studying East Asian philosophy. Much of this meeting, and establishing that gateway is the result of Diana’s work – so thank you Diana.”
To learn more about Indiana University Northwest, the East Asian Studies Gateway, or any of their upcoming events, visit iun.edu.