Saturday, July 18, 2015

Our July Author: Louisa Lim

This month we are reading The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited by NPR China correspondent Louisa Lim. This look back at the events of 1989 and their resonance 25 years later, is my favorite of our selections so far this year. As usual, we have a few supplemental links to help expand our understanding of the book.

Lim has a website for the book which offers up many links to her media promotion for the book and further commentaries on topics such as Hong Kong's recent "Umbrella" democracy protests. Her public Facebook page also provides some good links.

For anyone looking for a shortcut into the discussion, both the Milken Institute and the Library of Congress have good videos of Lim presentations. For a more free-flowing conversation, try the Council on Foreign Relations panel discussion, moderated by Orville Schell, author of the previous book we read about Tiananmen, Mandate Of Heaven.

In a National Geographic interview, Lim details how two of the subjects profiled in the book, artist Chen Guang and Tiananmen mother Zhang Xianling came to be detained at the time of the book's publication in June of 2014.

Additonal interviews to check out:

The Diplomat
The 1989 protest movement remains so potent because many of its demands – for greater political participation, for action against corruption, nepotism and official profiteering – are not just unresolved, but more pressing than ever. In addition to those demands, a constellation of new concerns has emerged including anger over land seizures by local governments, the widening wealth chasm and China’s environmental problems...
The Shanghaist
I was surprised to find that my own book was classified in the Library of Congress cataloguing system under “Tiananmen Square Incident, 1989”, which is the bland nomenclature favoured by the Chinese government itself. To me, calling the murderous suppression of protests an “incident” is not just an act of omission. It’s an act of mendacity.
Voices from Tiananmen, a multimedia presentation on Tiananmen from the South China Morning Post, is a great way to learn about or review the events of spring 1989.  Human Rights in China's June Fourth Overview has comprehensive links including lists of victims, prisoners, oral histories, essays, poetry as well as HRIC's ongoing concerns surrounding accountability for the event and it's commemoration.  The website for the film Tiananmen: The Gate of Heavenly Peace, which is mentioned in the book, also contains some good resources including an old-fashioned print bibliography. It's a great film if you get a chance to see it.

Luckily, PBS Frontline's film, The Tank Man, is available to view online and the associated website has additional resources. The side by side comparisons of web searches in and outside of China are especially interesting.  The New York Times Lens blog has a nice feature about the famous photograph(s) with commentary from the photographers.  For fun checkout Mashable's round-up of Tank Man memes. And PRI catches a few more, including the Angry Bird and Simpson's versions.  Then finish up by comparing the icon to Ferguson Missouri's 'tank man' and Hong Kong's 'umbrella man'. (Bonus: watch Lim try to explain Hong Kong's protest movement to Stephen Colbert.)

Finally, even if Chen Guang's art cannot be shown in China, you can still appreciate it on this blog. You can also sign the Tiananmen Mothers petition and learn more about Amnesty International's human rights concerns in China here. 

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