Summer School - China in a Global World War II, 3-15 July 2017, University of Cambridge, UK

Publish Date: Dec 15, 2016

Deadline: Jan 09, 2017

About the summer school

The CCKF-CHCI Summer Institute China in a Global WWII has two main objectives. The first is to foster a more dynamic understanding of the history of WWII in China; the second is to function as a spur to making the history of WWII truly global.

The Summer Institute will take place 3 - 15 July 2017 at CRASSH, University of Cambridge, with presentations by invited guest speakers and early career scholars selected through an application process.  

We are now taking applications to attend this Summer Institute. You must be able to commit to the whole two week period. Places are very limited and the deadline for application is 9 January 2017.

Principle Investigator

  • Simon Goldhill (CRASSH, University of Cambridge)


  • Hans van de Ven (University of Cambridge)
  • Yeh Wen-hsin (University of California, Berkeley)

Confirmed guest speakers

  • Shana Brown (University of Hawaii)
  • Yang Daqing (George Washington University)
  • Susan Daruvala (Cambridge University)
  • Richard Frank (US National WWII Museum)
  • Margaret Hillenbrand (Oxford University)
  • Joshua Howard (University of Mississippi)
  • Seung-joon Lee (University of Singapore)
  • Micah Muscolino (Oxford University) 
  • Hans van de Ven (University of Cambridge)
  • David Der-wei Wang (Harvard University)
  • Yeh Wen-hsin (UC Berkeley)
  • Yang Zhiyi (University of Frankfurt)


The Institute is made possible by a grant from the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (CCKF); we are grateful for their support.

Aims of the Summer Institute

World War Two has become something like the axial moment of our times, an event that shaped not just the geopolitical contours of the world in which we now live, but also our moral bearings, our identities, and our sense of the past. If this is true for most Western countries, it has also become the case for China. Now that communism (and, to an extent, consumerism) has lost its grip on the public imagination in China, the country’s leaders have turned to China’s war with Japan to construct a new, more inclusive, narrative of the emergence of New China, one which has allowed the healing of wounds resulting from class war, but which China’s leaders are also exploiting to justify a dominant role for China in East Asia.

The Summer Institute has two main objectives. The first is to foster a more dynamic understanding of the history of WWII in China. Beginning in the late 1980s, much work has been done in China and in the UK and the USA to account more fully for China’s role in WWII. Much of that history remains traditional in its approach, recounting battles, tracing international relations, and narrating personal conflicts. By examining the writings of poets, dramatists, and authors, by analysing the work of painters, cartoonists, musicians, and film makers, and by studying the many works of history and other forms of scholarship written in the period, the Institute will recover the intellectual vitality and creativity of the period, and so provide a spur to less politicized and ideological readings of China’s wartime past as well as to a proper accounting of the role of the humanities in (and at) war.

China in WWII was not simply the USA’s and the UK’s junior partner. During her famous tour of the USA in 1943, Madame Chiang Kaishek became America’s favourite Asian other, an antidote to Japan, of course, but also a beacon of a new post-imperialist world, deliberately so fashioned by the Roosevelt Administration, in part to boost Chinese morale but also to contain Churchill’s imperialist instincts. Mao Zedong took to reading Clausewitz while trying to evolve a strategy for revolutionary success while sitting in his cave in the Yan’an Mountains. Indian Congress leader Jawaharlal Nehru discussed Asia’s future with Chiang Kaishek in a Chongqing bomb shelter hiding from Japanese bombing raids. The second aim, then, of the Institute is to move scholarship on from its tired focus on US – China relations to one much more fully aware of the diversities and richness of the international and Chinese domestic context of the war.  

A longer range aim of the Institute is to function as a spur to making the history of WWII truly global. Especially in military history, World War II remains told as the fight by the Allies against Germany in Europe and Japan in East Asia. Large areas of the world – the Middle East, continental East Asia, South-East Asia, and Africa – are largely overlooked. By approaching the topic in an interdisciplinary way and by bringing a broad range of humanities subjects to bear on it, we hope that a convincing case emerges for a more globally aware, a more cosmopolitan, and a less ideological approach to an event that does indeed continue to shape our time in profound time. 

Costs and bursaries

The costs associated with participation are estimated to be £1300 (covering local accommodation in a Cambridge college and all meals) plus the cost of travel. Bursaries of no more than £1500 per person are available.


You are eligible to attend the Summer Institute if:

(1) Your principal research is concerned with the study of wartime China

(2) You are an early career scholar in the arts, humanities, and social sciences with excellent Chinese and English language skills and you are within seven years of completing your PhD or, if you are a PhD student with a similar background and qualifications, you are within half a year of completing your PhD dissertation.

How to apply

The deadline for applications is 12:00 noon (GMT) Monday January 9, 2017. Application is only by the online application system of CRASSH. No emailed or paper applications will be considered.

You can register or log in to your application on the right hand side of this page. Please contact us via email on if you experience technical difficulties with the system or if you require further information about eligibility or provision. You are also welcome to discuss your application with the programme convenor, Professor Hans van de Ven.

The following information will be required:

  1. In the field DESCRIPTION please give a 500 word statement on why you would like to participate in the Summer Institute and the work you will present.
  2. A short CV of no more than one page, which must list your educational background and your most important publications. This should be uploaded into the Additional Material section. Files must be PDF and maximum 8Mb.
  3. A sample of written work, such as a recently presented conference paper or a draft chapter of a book or Ph.D. dissertation. This should be uploaded into the Additional Material section. Files must be PDF and maximum 8Mb.
  4. A financial statement indicating total cost of participation (local costs plus flight) and the amount you can contribute from sources available to you. For persons who have not yet been awarded the PhD, a letter of reference from your supervisor with details of the state of the dissertation is also required. These should be put on one document and uploaded as a PDF in the field Additional Material.

For more information click "Further official information" below.

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