China Through the Lens of Friendship Delegations in the 1970s

A dialog and reception to launch the digital collection of photographs taken by the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars (CCAS) Friendship Delegations

 

The UC San Diego Library is pleased to launch a new digital collection of images of early 1970s China contributed by members of the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars (CCAS) Friendship Delegations.

You are cordially invited to a dialog and reception with CCAS delegates and contributors to the collection on Thursday, January 18, 2018 from 4-6pm in Geisel’s Seuss Room. RSVP here.

The event features Paul Pickowicz, distinguished professor of history and Chinese studies at UC San Diego, and William Joseph, professor of political science at Wellesley College, sharing their experiences while traveling in mainland China followed by a Q&A session with the audience. Light refreshments will be served. 

Pickowicz traveled with the first group of Asian specialists that visited mainland China in the summer of 1971 when he was working towards his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Joseph was a member of the Friendship Delegation that visited China the following spring while he was a graduate student at Stanford University. Professor Emeritus Susan Shirk of School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego, also a 1971 CCAS delegate, will join the program as a special guest.

CCAS was founded in March 1969 by faculty and graduate students opposed to the Vietnam War and later became a strong supporter of the re-establishment of U.S.-China relations in the 1970s. The 1971 CCAS delegation was the first group of Asian specialists to travel to mainland China after the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. The 1972 delegation’s visit came shortly after President Nixon’s historic trip.

Both groups traveled throughout the country engaging in conversation with workers, farmers, students, government officials, and soldiers hoping to grasp the most current state of work and life in China. Delegates took photos of places and people from a great variety of angles, providing a lens through which to understand a young China and its people in the early 1970s.

An impressive range of social phenomena, living conditions, and human behavior in the midst of the Cultural Revolution was captured with the cameras and pens of the American visitors. Their experiences managed to encompass important events, such as the unfolding of the rapprochement of China-U.S. relations and the rebuilding of Beijing University after a period of turbulence from 1966 to 1968. The highlight of their China experiences were their four-hour long meetings with Premier Zhou Enlai at the Great Hall of People. The delegates also witnessed the impact of countless political movements that began during the Cultural Revolution: the big character posters, propaganda arts, model theatrical performances, sent-down youth, and the proliferation of acupuncture therapy, model communes, and many others.

The collection currently consists of two subcollections featuring images contributed by Professor Pickowicz and Professor Joseph. Additional images will be added to the collection throughout the year, including a third subcollection of images from Professor Stephen MacKinnon, another 1972 delegate. The UC San Diego Library is endeavoring to collect more images and memorabilia from other delegates of these two trips.

Contact the UC San Diego Library’s Chinese studies librarian, Xi Chen, at xic031@ucsd.edu if you would like to contribute to this project.

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