Paul Robeson, Joris Ivens, and Modern China

Speaker: Liang Luo
Venue: Hosted via Zoom
Date & Time:
2021-4-13 | 20:00-21:30 (Shanghai)
2021-4-13 | 8:00-9:30 (New York)
2021-4-13 | 16:00-17:30 (Abu Dhabi)

Paul Robeson was a renowned American concert artist and stage and film actor who sang what became the Chinese national anthem, “March of the Volunteers,” in Mandarin Chinese in New York City and Prague, among other locations, from the late 1930s onward. Joris Ivens was a Dutch documentary filmmaker who traveled to China in 1938 to film The 400 Million (1939), a documentary that depicted the Chinese resistance against Japanese invasion and publicized “March of the Volunteers” as one of its key soundtracks. This talk connects Paul Robeson and Joris Ivens through their activist roles in the making of the Chinese national anthem, in the context of their generation of the international avant-garde, and in relation to their complex and evolving relationship with modern Chinese cultural politics, from the late 1930s to the late 1950s.

Born in Chongqing, China, Professor Liang Luo received her B.A. in Chinese and M.A. in Comparative Literature from Beijing Normal University, and her Ph.D. in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. She is Associate Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Kentucky and the author of The Avant-Garde and the Popular in Modern China (Michigan, 2014) and The Global White Snake (Michigan, 2021). Her current book and documentary film project is titled Profound Propaganda: The International Avant-garde and Modern China.

Introduction by Tansen Sen, Professor of History Director of the Center for Global Asia, NYU Shanghai.

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