Harvard Scholar to Lecture at UM About China Since Tiananmen Square Protests

March 28, 2014

MISSOULA – Rowena Xiaoqing He, a lecturer in Harvard University’s Department of Government, will deliver a talk titled “1989 as Watershed: China Since Tiananmen” as part of the University of Montana President’s Lecture Series at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, in the George and Jane Dennison Theatre.

She also will deliver a seminar earlier that same day in collaboration with the UM Philosophy Forum. “Romance and Revolution: China Since Tiananmen” will be held from 3:10 to 4:30 p.m. in Gallagher Business Building Room 123. Both events are free and open to the public, and the evening lecture is presented in collaboration with the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center.

He was born and raised in China and moved to Canada in 1998. She earned her doctorate from the University of Toronto in 2008, and spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. She has won teaching awards for her work at Harvard for the past three years. She often is asked to give interviews for news media, and her op-eds about China have appeared in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

She has given several talks at universities about the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre of June 4, 1989. In the spring of that year, millions of people across China took to the streets in a nationwide uprising against government corruption and authoritarian rule. What began with widespread hope for political reform ended with the People’s Liberation Army firing on unarmed citizens in the capital city of Beijing. Thousands of people were killed or arrested.  Leaders who survived the crackdown became wanted criminals overnight. 

He witnessed this unprecedented popular movement in Communist China. She later joined former student leaders and others exiled in North America, where she has worked tirelessly for more than a decade to keep the memory of the Tiananmen movement alive.

Reviewers of her upcoming book, “Tiananmen Exiles,” describe He as “one of the most courageous academics in the United States” and her book as a powerful memoir, pre-eminently useful “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.”

The President’s Lecture Series at UM consists of 10 talks on vital topics by distinguished guest speakers throughout the academic year. For more information on the series, visit http://umt.edu/president/events/lectures/ or call UM history Professor Richard Drake at 406-243-2981.

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Note to media: “He” is the lecturer’s surname, but she is a woman.

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Contact: Richard Drake, UM history professor and lecture series organizer, 406-243-2981, richard.drake@mso.umt.edu.