Robert E. Entenmann, 1949-2024

Robert E. Entenmann, a longtime member of the Association for Asian Studies, died January 7, 2024 in Northfield Minnesota, having taught Chinese history at St. Olaf College for 36 years. A native of Seattle, Bob earned a B.A. in Chinese History from the University of Washington, an M.A. from Stanford, and a Ph.D. from Harvard in History and East Asian Languages. He was a participant in a very early (1972) trip to China with the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars, where he met members of Mao’s Gang of Four, and witnessed flight attendants performing Maoist songs mid-air.

Bob’s dissertation was on migration and demography in early Qing Sichuan, and much of his later research was on the social history of the Catholic community in the province. His research on the topic took him to archives in Paris, Rome, Taipei, and Beijing, as well as local history in Sichuan. His articles painted a remarkable picture of how a foreign doctrine achieved converts in rural China, often without the presence of missionaries. Particularly memorable was his picture of Andreas Ly, a Chinese believer who oversaw the Catholic community during periods when foreign Catholics were not able to travel in the province.

During his years at St. Olaf, Bob served as mentor and organizer of a community of students in Asian Studies. He chaired the History Department several times, and led numerous student trips to Asia. Within AAS, he was active in the production of Education About Asia. He is survived by his wife, Sarah Johnson Entenmann, and his two children, Leah and David Entenmann.

Bob was knowledgeable, gentle and funny, a committed teacher, and warm friend. He will be missed.

— Submitted by R. Kent Guy, University of Washington