“I am now back to Singapore, but in a way I remain in the “spirit” of the conference because I am going through another round of reflection upon inspiring presentations and conversations among participants and audience. Most of my works focus on contemporary issues at China’s ethnic frontiers including my presented work on spiritual crisis and Mongolian healing, but this conference enhances my convictions that I should delve further into historical sources and archives as a historical-comparative approach will surely add depth and nuances to the better understanding of contemporary phenomenon including the asserted moral degradation in today’s Chinese society. Therefore, I am sincerely hoping that the “spirit” of the conference will keep going and all of us will be able to further our discussions. In so doing, in my opinion the forum initiated by the HKU China Studies team should not only continue but also expand and thrive.
What is more, I would like to highlight a unique feature of the conference for its emphasis on experimental exploration of possible converging research themes and agendas on China’s regional studies and beyond among its participants. This kind of experimentally oriented (funded) conferences become rarer and rarer in humanities and social sciences in general throughout the world in the sense that most grant-funded conferences attach increasing importance to the-so-called “actual” outcome and final products (e.g., publications). As a consequence, the “spirit” of conference, in-depth dialogue and inspirations from one another seem to be worth little in such a pragmatically-instrumentally driven approach. As a matter of fact, I do believe that there will be plenty of great publications and grants coming out of the International Conference on Re-thinking China’s North eventually. Therefore, we participants will surely acknowledge the forum (conference), and thus the conference organizers (HKU China Studies team) will be significantly rewarded for your experimental and unorthodox approach. In all, I want to thank the HKU (university and faculties) for sponsoring this great event. I personally hope to continue to explore North China and regional studies through the platform of the China Studies and the university and by collaborating with the team and other HKU colleagues in the near future. ”
Dr. Tenzin Jinba, National University of Singapore
Dr. Jiangnan Zhu, University of Hong Kong
“In recent years, Russianists have begun grappling with new historiographical problems, moving away from top-down, Moscow- and St-Petersburg-centric approaches to history. Regional studies have flourished, covering a wide range of themes: from patterns of local land ownership and structures of village governance, to prostitution in port cities and criminal hierarchies in the Gulag. This ‘local turn’ has yet to take firm root in studies of Russia’s far eastern frontiers, however. HKU’s conference provided fresh impetus for my own research into this relatively under-explored – at least for Russianists! – region, demonstrating a provocative range of new methodologies and debates that Sinologists are confronting with China’s northern territories. There is so much for us to learn from scholars of China’s north, and so much room for fruitful discussion between Russian and Chinese historians! Among other things, the conference opened up vast scope for comparative histories of Russian and Chinese internal colonisation. It provided new lenses – ecological, cultural, commercial – with which to analyse and problematise the classic model of Sino-Russian ‘imperial contestation’ that characterises so much of the existing literature. I am very grateful for the opportunity to take part in this conference!”
Dr. Rachel Lin, University of Exeter