My Country and My People: China since Tiananmen

Monday, April 22, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
Venue: JO 2.604
Admission: Free
Season: 2018-19

Rowena Xiaoqing He, born and raised in China, received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and conducted her postdoctoral research at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. She is a current member of the Institute for Advanced Study located in Princeton, NJ, a research associate at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, and Assistant Professor of History at St. Michael’s College. Her first book Tiananmen Exiles was named one of the Top Five China Books of 2014 by the Asia Society. The book has been reviewed favorably in the New York Review of Books, the Christian Science Monitor, the Human Rights Quarterly, the Wall Street Journal, the New Statesman, the Spectator, the Journal of East Asian Libraries, the China Journal, and other international periodicals and newspapers. She has taught at Harvard University, Wellesley College, and St. Michael’s College. The seminars that she created on the 1989 Tiananmen Movement and its aftermath earned her the Harvard University Certificate of Teaching Excellence for three years.

In addition to her scholarly work, Professor He speaks and publishes widely outside the academy. She was designated among the Top 100 Chinese Public Intellectuals of 2016. She has been a keynote speaker for the Canada Human Rights National Symposium, testified at a U.S. Congressional hearing, and delivered lectures for the U.S. State Department and the Canada International Council. Her op-eds have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and the Globe and Mail. She has been interviewed by the ABC (Australia), AI Jazeera, Associated Press, BBC, Boston Globe, Boston Public Radio, CBC, Christian Science Monitor, CTV, Daily Telegraph, Globe and Mail, Guardian, Harvard Gazette, Harvard Magazine, Los Angeles TimesNational Geographic, NBC, the New York Times, Public Radio International, Radio Free Asia, Radio Canada International, Time, Voice of America, Wellesley News, and various other international media. Her interview with the New York Times Chinese edition was ranked the Top 3 Most Popular Original Articles of 2016.

Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggle for Democracy in China


“Rowena He’s book is an essential corrective. Through her own writings and ongoing testimony about the events of 1989, she has refused to let the hope for democracy wither under the weight of platitudes and Party-imposed amnesia. The cost of this act of moral courage has been very high...The lonely few keep educating themselves about the vague ideals that they carried as youths into Tiananmen Square. They refuse to become deaf to history’s trauma, in the way that Primo Levi feared for the generation after the Holocaust.” -Human Rights Quarterly by Vera Schwarcz

 “A moving and very personal account of life as a political emigrant...A convincing and powerful account of a central experience in contemporary Chinese life” -New York Review of Books by Ian Johnson

'Tiananmen Exiles is a brave book written eloquently, with controlled passion... [it is] a masterly narrative and analysis..[He's] often profound book is an unmistakable sign of her devotion to the cause' - The Spectator by Jonathan Mirsky

“Rowena He herself is an example of someone who has battled for years, sometimes in the face of angry criticism, to keep alive the memories of an idealism that emerged in full force in 1989. And she’s determined not to let us forget.” -Christian Science Monitor by Dan Southerland

"A compelling account of idealism and the price it exacts" - Kirkus

“Bold attempt to reclaim Chinese history from the state” -The Independent by Edward Wilson

Tiananmen Exiles has organically tied the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen movement together through the lives and agonies of three former student leaders, and through them, the lives and struggles of their generation. – Journal of East Asian Libraries by Zehao Zhou

"Rowena He...courageously battles state-imposed amnesia, forcing us to remember the human cost of China's 1989" - The Daily Telegraph by Julia Lovell

He’s book is a valuable contribution to the literature on the Chinese democracy movement and provides fascinating insights into the world of Chinese political exiles. – The China Journal by Björn Alpermann

"Those who have chosen, or were forced by circumstances, not to live the official lie, including Rowena He, are condemned as traitors to China rather than as critics of the regime. For the three student leaders interviewed in her book, the events of 1989 and their subsequent exile created a permanent post-traumatic state. Much the same could be said of the nation they left behind, a nation that is waiting for the moment when the legacy of the tragedy suffered a quarter-century ago can be faced." - New Statesman by Isabel Hilton

 “As long as the Communist Party continues to refuse to tolerate any conversation about June Fourth, it will only ensure that voices like Ms. He’s echo even louder in the silence." - The Wall Street Journal Real Time by Maura Cunningham

"Though China's democracy movement was crushed in the Tiananmen Massacre 25 years ago, the ideas that animated it are eternal. Rowena Xiaoqing He, one of the most courageous academics in the U.S., has written a powerful book that tracks the poignant journeys of three exiled activists and honors the sacrifices so many Chinese had to make in 1989 and after." - Adi Ignatius, Wall Street Journal Beijing Bureau Chief in 1989, editor of Time President Obama: The Path to The While House, co-editor of Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Premier Zhao Ziyang, Editor-in-Chief of Harvard Business Review

"This new book revives as well as preserves the memory of the 1989 Tiananmen Movement in a quintessential way. Combining autobiographical and biographical approaches with psycho-cultural analysis, Rowena Xiaoqing He has ingeniously reconstructed the entire movement in historical perspective not only to unlock the past and explain the present but also to peer into the future of China's sustained struggle against totalitarian tyranny. This is also a deeply touching narrative that the reader will find difficult to lay down until reaching the last sentence." - Yu Ying-shih, Emeritus Professor of East Asian Studies and History, Princeton University, and winner of the John W. Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity

"Tiananmen Exiles rekindles our painful memories of those who paid dearly for their ideals. In this oral history project, Rowena Xiaoqing He captures the indomitable spirit of three student leaders forced into exile after the Tiananmen crackdown a quarter century ago. Their stories are powerful, moving, and inspirational." - Minxin Pei, Director, Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at Claremont McKenna College and author of China's Crony Capitalism, and China's Trapped Transition: The Limits of Developmental Autocracy

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