Rediscovering Historical China: A Reflection on the Work and Mentorship of Professor Daniel H. Bays (1942-2019)

Friday, December 4, 2020

4:00-5:15 PM Eastern Time

On May 9, 2019, Professor Daniel H. Bays (1942-2019), B.A. Stanford 1964, M.A. Michigan 1967, and Ph.D. Michigan 1971, passed away. The fields of modern Chinese history, Christianity in China, and the history of U.S.-China relations lost a wonderful thinker, leader, and helper.

At this moment, as U.S.-China relations are at their lowest point in the four decades since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979, it is of particular importance to reflect on the deep roots and human dimensions of those relations so eminently represented in the study of Christianity in China which Dr. Daniel H. Bays pioneered together with John K. Fairbank at Harvard University. The remembrance of Dr. Bays at this memorial roundtable aims to give human substance, perspective, and hope to future academic scholarship on China. Paying due respect to Dr. Bays’ life’s work and extraordinary mentorship is more than retrospection: it is of true strategic significance for our field.

You are cordially invited to this AAS Digital Dialogue. On this occasion, three generations of scholars will follow the chronological sequence of Professor Daniel Bays’ publications to address two questions: How had Dr. Bays helped us to rediscover the complexity and variety of historical China that came with the new historiography of the 1970s and the concurrent end of Mao’s era? What are the new perspectives, research topics, and findings that have been emerging as a result of his impact?

Session Transcript

Additional Resources

Daniel H. Bays, A New History of Christianity in China. Oxford and New York: Wiley-Blackwell Publishers, 2011.

Daniel H. Bays, China Enters the Twentieth Century: Chang Chih-tung and the Issues of a New Age, 1895-1909. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1978 (paperback in 2016).

Daniel H. Bays, “Christianity and the Chinese Sectarian Tradition”.

Dan H. Bays ed., Christianity in China: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present. 

Daniel H. Bays and Grant Wacker, ed., The Foreign Missionary Enterprise at Home: Explorations in North American Cultural History.

Daniel H. Bays and Ellen Widmer, ed.,  China’s Christian Colleges: Cross-Cultural Connections, 1900-1950.

Kai Yin Chan, “Daniel H. Bays Bibliography”.

Paul A. Cohen, Discovering History in China: American Historical Writing on the Recent Chinese Past.

David Hollinger

Jinhee Lee, “Daniel H. Bays”.

Dana Robert, “Message from the Director: The Passing of a Generation”.

Margaret Stanley (Daniel H. Bays, ed.), Foreigners in Areas of China Under Communist Jurisdiction Before 1949.

R.G. Tiedmann

Dong Wang, “Professor Daniel H. Bays (1942-2019)”

Session Participants

Ryan Dunch

Professor of History, University of Alberta

Dr. Ryan Dunch is Professor and Chair in the Department of History and Classics at the University of Alberta. He earned his BA in Asian Studies at ANU (1987), MA in History at the University of British Columbia (1991), and his PhD in History at Yale University (1996). A specialist in modern Chinese history, he is the author of Fuzhou Protestants and the Making of a Modern China, 1857-1927 (Yale University Press, 2001), as well as articles and book chapters related to the past and present of Christianity in Chinese society. He is also the co-editor (with Ashley Esarey) of Taiwan in Dynamic Transition: Nation Building and Democratization (University of Washington Press, 2020). His principal current research focus is missionary publishing in Chinese before 1911.

Jinhee Lee

Associate Professor of History, Eastern Illinois University

Dr. Jinhee Lee is Associate Professor of History at Eastern Illinois University where she served as founding chair of Asian Studies program until relocating to Cambridge, Massachusetts as Research Associate at the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies at Harvard University in 2019. Prof. Lee holds PhD in modern Japanese and Korean history from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and her research focuses on race and violence in the Japanese empire and transnational/trans-Pacific exchanges among Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and American church women in the early 20th century. Dr. Lee is a recipient of Excellent Undergraduate Teaching Award, Student’s Distinguished Professor Award, and Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award from the University of Illinois and Eastern Illinois University. Prof. Lee treasures the opportunities to have worked with Bays as his invited speaker for Calvin’s East Asian Studies program and through various Asian Studies and Church History conferences as well.

Xi Lian

Professor of World Christianity, Duke University

Dr. Xi Lian is professor of world Christianity at Duke University. His research focuses on China’s modern encounter with Christianity. His first book, The Conversion of Missionaries (1997), is a critical study of American Protestant missions against the backdrop of rising Chinese nationalism in the early twentieth century. His second book, Redeemed by Fire: The Rise of Popular Christianity in Modern China (Yale UP, 2010), was the winner of the 2011 Christianity Today Book Award and the 2010 Chinese Historians in the United States “Award for Academic Excellence.” It examines the development of missionary Christianity into a vibrant, indigenous faith of the Chinese masses. Its Chinese edition by the Chinese University Press of Hong Kong appeared in 2011. His most recent book, Blood Letters: The Untold Story of Lin Zhao, a Martyr in Mao’s China (2018), is the first authoritative biography of a most important political dissident in Mao’s China.

Steve Pieragastini

Lecturer in Global Studies, University of California at Riverside

Dr. Steven Pieragastini is a Lecturer in Global Studies at UC-Riverside. He received his PhD in History from Brandeis University in February 2017. His book manuscript based on his dissertation focuses on the history of the Catholic Church in modern China and its relationship with the Chinese State. He has also published on the history of universities in Shanghai and the intersection of imperial projects in China’s borderland regions.

Grant Wacker

Professor Emeritus, Duke University

Dr. Grant Wacker is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor Emeritus of Christian History at Duke Divinity School. His most recent book is One Soul at a Time: The Story of Billy Graham (2019). Dr. Wacker co-edited, with Daniel Bays, The Foreign Missionary Impulse at Home: Explorations in North American Cultural History (2003).

Dong Wang

Distinguished University Professor of History, Shanghai University

Dr. Dong WANG is a PhD student of Dr. Daniel H. Bays. Besides her work in Shanghai (since 2016), she has been a research associate at the Harvard Fairbank Center since 2002, and an elected Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society Great Britain and Ireland. Books in English that Dr. Wang single-authored are: Longmen’s Stone Buddhas and Cultural Heritage: When Antiquity Met Modernity in China (2020), The United States and China: A History from the Eighteenth Century to the Present (2013, winner of Choice Top 25 Outstanding Academic Titles; rev. and 2nd ed. 2021), Managing God’s Higher Learning: U.S.-China Cultural Encounter and Canton Christian College (Lingnan University), 1888-1952 (2007), and China’s Unequal Treaties: Narrating National History (2005). Among others, she edited “The United States, Asia, and the Pacific, 1815-1919,” which was published in The SHAFR Guide: An Annotated Bibliography of American Foreign Relations since 1600 (2017, rev. ed. 2021).