Conference honoring Kathryn Bernhardt, Professor Emerita of the UCLA History Department
On May 12, 2012, a large group of Kathryn Bernhardt’s former graduate students and colleagues gathered in Bunche Hall to celebrate her 60th birthday and distinguished career with a conference titled “Re-thinking State and Society in Modern Chinese History from the Archives.”
Bernhardt, Professor Emerita of the UCLA History Department, editor of the journal Modern China, and member of the Center for Chinese Studies, decisively shaped the direction of American historiography on modern China particularly by broadening the focus of social history to include peasants and women through archivebased research. Indeed, the theme of the conference – using archival research to conduct Chinese history – came from her students’ wish to honor her long-time devotion to the archives which served as the base for her pathbreaking scholarly works including Rents, Taxes, and Peasant Resistance: The Lower Yangzi Region, 1840-1950 (winner of the John K. Fairbank Prize), Civil Law in Qing and Republican China (co-edited with Philip Huang), Women and Property in China, 960-1949, and numerous articles.
The gathering was organized by panels, each oriented around themes such as “Law and Gender,” “Law and Society,” “State and Society,” and “New Insights into Post-1949 Society.” Bernhardt’s students and colleagues, a few of whom came from as far away as Japan and China to participate and present their work, saw her birthday as a fitting occasion to honor her career and, given the dramatic socioeconomic changes in China and Taiwan over the past three decades along with the vast array of archival evidence now available to historians, to explore new approaches to conducting Chinese history. All participants professed to having been deeply inspired by Bernhardt’s scholarship, mentoring, and teaching and said they would remember this day for years to come.
About the Conference Organizers
Margaret Kuo received her BA and PhD from UCLA. She is currently EDS-Stewart Fellow at the Center for the Pacific Rim, University of San Francisco, and Assistant Professor of History at California State University, Long Beach. Her research focuses on gender, law, and society in twentieth-century China.
Elizabeth VanderVen received her PhD from UCLA. She is the author of A School in Every Village: Educational Reform in a Northeast China County, and is currently conducting research on China's wine and viticulture industries.
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Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012