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2014 events

Scientists, Activists, and Interlocutors

Epistemic Communities and China's Cold War Foreign Relations

Research Seminar with Gordon Barrett, Doctoral Candidate, University of Bristol
4-6pm, Wednesday 26 November 2014
Room S-1.04, Strand Building, Strand Campus, King's College London

All welcome - no need to book


China’s Cold War diplomacy stretched far beyond the world of politicians and professional diplomats. The Chinese Communist Party’s foreign policy elite looked to scholarly communication as a key means of linking political circles in the People’s Republic of China to communities beyond the socialist and developing worlds. This talk analyses these linkages, examining the role played by a small cohort of prominent Chinese scientists who were active in international scientific organisations and events such as the World Federation of Scientific Workers and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs. For these scientists, such party-approved ‘People’s Diplomacy’ afforded them valuable opportunities to maintain contact with scientific networks from which they would have otherwise been isolated. For the CCP, these scientists were singularly effective intercultural intermediaries who, being embedded in overlapping transnational epistemic and activist communities, won sympathy and support for the PRC among foreign intellectuals. These Mao-era linkages were a notable part of the foundation not only for the expansion of Sino-foreign academic exchange in the Reform era, but also the wider normalisation of China’s relations with the First World.

About the Speaker

Gordon Barrett is a doctoral student in the Department of History at the University of Bristol. His research focuses on scientists as an extension of the international aspects of the early PRC state. He holds a BAH from Mount Allison University, Canada, where he won the David Beatty History Prize in 2006, and an MPhil. Modern Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford. His doctorate has been supported by funding from the University of Bristol and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, with additional research grants from the Universities’ China Committee in London, the Worldwide Universities Network, and the Canada-China Scholars’ Exchange Programme. He has an article on Chinese involvement in the early Pugwash movement that is to be included in a forthcoming special issue of the Journal of Cold War Studies.


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