China Beat: A Reintroduction

China Beat has just celebrated its one-year anniversary, and while a few of you have been with us since the beginning, the majority of our readers have tuned in somewhere along the way. For that reason, we thought it might be worth a little recap of who China Beat is and what we are about. In the spirit of brevity (of sorts), let’s do it as a top-five list…

1. China Beat is based in the U.S. (in Irvine, California, specifically) and while many of our contributors also hail from the United States, we also regularly publish pieces by writers based in China (like Zhang Lijia’s discussion of China’s death penalty), Australia (such as Geremie Barme’s interview about the torch relay), Taiwan (see Paul Katz’s regular blogging for “Tales from Taiwan”), Vietnam (see, for instance, Caroline Finlay’s piece on Vietnamese protests of the torch relay), Japan (such as James Farrer’s analysis of Japanese media coverage of the Olympics) , Canada (like David Luesink on the similarities between the Olympic preparations in Beijing and Vancouver) , New Zealand (like Paola Voici’s piece on “Big and Small Nationalisms”), Britain (Rob Gifford on Beijing architecture), and Israel (Shakhar Rahav’s piece on Olympic celebrations in Israel).

2. Uniquely for a blog, we draw on a wide and ever-changing group of contributors that range in background and expertise. We have published pieces by academics from graduate students in their first few years of study (for instance, Xia Shi, who wrote about the history of the Terracotta warriors) to university professors (the co-founders of the blog, Jeffrey Wasserstrom and Ken Pomeranz, are both faculty members in the history department at the University of California, Irvine) to the chancellor of a university (Daniel Little at University of Michigan-Dearborn, who wrote memorials for two scholars who passed away this year, Charles Tilly and Bill Skinner). We also regularly incorporate the works of journalists (such as James Miles on the Tibet riots), non-fiction writers (like Peter Hessler), and even a mystery novelist.

3. While we run a lot of book reviews and reflections on media coverage of China, we have also published historical pieces (see Ed Jocelyn’s narration of the late General Xiao Ke’s life), book excerpts (such as a selection from Robert Kapp’s foreword to the reprint of Graham Peck’s Two Kinds of Time), to movie reviews (like Angilee Shah’s report on a documentary about the school collapses in Sichuan or Matthew Johnson’s analysis of Lust, Caution), environmental writing (like Alex Pasternack on the new train to Tibet), and cultural analysis (such as Charles Hayford’s reflections on Wikipedia and Chinese history, Micki McCoy and Kelly Hammond’s discussion of a Pepsi commercial filmed in a Xinjiang sports stadium, and Hongmei Li’s examination of Chinese femininity and gender expectations).

4. While we’re definitely heavy on the print format, contributor (and Stanford prof) Tom Mullaney has also been experimenting with podcasts under the feature “China on My Mind.”

5. As those of you who’ve been reading regularly have already heard (and heard, and heard…!), we’ve got a book based on the blog coming out in March, China in 2008: A Year of Great Significance (if you follow that link, you’ll find that Amazon appears to be listing the hardcover price for the paperback edition….It’s $26.95 from Rowman & Littlefield). However, one of the things we haven’t told you yet is that Jonathan Spence is writing the foreword for the book--yet one more thing about the book that has us looking forward to sharing it with you!

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