Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


Nov. 26, 2008

Ida Beam lecturer to discuss border issues in post-socialist China Dec. 4

James L. Watson, Fairbank Professor of Chinese Society and anthropology professor at Harvard University, will present "Cold War Borders in a Post-Socialist World: Hong Kong/China," from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, in 40 Schaeffer Hall on the UI campus. Watson will visit as an Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor.

During the public lecture, Watson will discuss the transformation of a border between Hong Kong and mainland China in a span of four decades. Watson's analysis will cover issues arising from both sides along the border since the separation on Feb. 15, 1951, after Hong Kong's reversion to China in 1997, and to the present day. The talk will be Watson's second and last lecture offered as a 2008 Ida Beam lecturer, following his October presentation on the historical function of meat in the Chinese society.

"Professor Watson's lecture will be of great interest for us," said Sonia Ryang, UI associate professor of anthropology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and international studies and the director of the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies. "The Asia-Pacific region is rapidly emerging as a key region in the global economy and in politics. And we face the need to understand Asia trans-regionally, rather than nation-by-nation as during the Cold War. Professor Watson's presence here at UI has energized our interest in Asia and especially China. I hope this will be the beginning of the enhanced visibility of Asia as a research focus on campus."

A UI alumnus and an internationally acclaimed anthropologist of China, Watson has taught in many institutions, including the University of London and University of Pittsburgh. His research has focused on Chinese emigration, ancestor worship and popular religion, family life and village organization, food systems, and the emergence of a post-socialist culture in the People's Republic of China. Watson recently worked with graduate students in Harvard's Department of Anthropology to investigate the impact of transnational food industries in East Asia. He teaches courses on Chinese society, transnational-global culture, and comparative food systems.

The UI Office of the Provost sponsors the Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships Program. The UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Anthropology, UI International Programs and the UI Center for Asian and Pacific Studies are also sponsoring Watson's visits.

The UI established the Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships Program in 1978-79 based on a bequest from the late Ida Beam of Vinton, Iowa, who willed her family farm to the University of Iowa Foundation. The proceeds from the farm's sale enabled the UI to establish a fund that brings top scholars in a variety of fields to campus for lectures and discussions.

CAPS is a part of UI International Programs, which enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Sonia Ryang, UI Department of Anthropology, 319-335-0522,; Kelli Andresen, UI International Programs, 319-335-2026,; Lois Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,; Writer: Lini Ge