Tag Archives: conference

HTAA Conference seminars – day 3

Seminar 1
Thinking about Alexander

Sources:
–Quintus Curtius Rufus – in Penguin as The History of Alexander: lots of speeches; Roman bias against king.
–Plutarch – parallel with Julius Caesar; character more than politics
–Arrian – in Penguin as The Campaigns of Alexander; very pro-Alex.
**These are all 400+ years after his death, so they’re really secondary sources.
–Also: Lysippos: the offical court sculpture of Alex.

*Alexander:
–was a monomaniac
–was a drunkard (almost certainly)
–had a troubled childhood
–was alf-Illyrian, because of Olympias, so possibly not the best choice for king (which was elective, within the royal house)
–inherits the kingship, being hegemon (overlord of Greece, as in representative), and a huge debt to Greek moneylenders. Add in his monomania, and here are three excellent reasons for invading Persia….

My take: I love Alexander. I love the stories that have grown up around him, and the very romance of taking that many men that far. I’m not necessarily that enamored of the man himself, but that hardly matters.

HTAA Conference Keynote – day 3

John Fitzgerald: “What did Napoleon say about China? Recent trends in studies of Chinese history.

*Napoleon apparently said: “Behold the Chinese empire! Let this dragon sleep, for when it awakes the whole world will tremble.” (Or something along those lines, anyway).
** This quote has been used as the opening of two best-selling books.

*Almost no scholarship has been done on Chinese history before the 1950s – only on Americans in China, etc.

*John King Fairbank pushed the Western impact/Chinese reaction mode of Chinese history (1950s-70s), not looking at indigenous history; more on assimilation, or not.

*Paul Cohen pushed/identified trend Chinese-centred history (1980-90s). China did have pre/non-West history; also that “West” is itself problematic; Chinese-Western relations are two-way.

*Post-Cohen writings:
–China in regional and world economic history
–pre-modern Europe as similar to pre-modern China, more similar than modern China to modern Europe
–Ethnic histories of China
–History of Chinese overseas

*China/Australia:
–Morrison and Donald, both white men in China; both journos for major international papers, in late 19th-early 20th century. Morrison was also the secretary to Chiang Kai-Shek’s (sp??) wife. Both not all that well known, but they do have biographies and other remembrances.
–Who remembers the Chinese who made equal contributions to relations between China and Australia?
-William Ah Ket
-NSW Chinese Chamber of Commerce – second in establishment to the one in Hong Kong
-William Liu
-Australian department stores established in China; still there
-James See (Hsieh Tsan Tai), born Sydney. Founded first revoluntionary organisation in China! Joined with Sun Yat-sen’s group.

*Pattern of migration for China to Australia parallels Europeans to USA; about 40% returned after a while.
–“District club” – organised by people from the same regions, to organise social and often financial affairs.
–Australasian Kuomintang association was second largest outside China. They set up a Canton HQ, for Australian Chinese visiting.
–Empire Reform Association
–Chinese Masonic Association

*Turns out Napoleon did not say that about China (surprise, surprise). Probably did say something about Britain shouldn’t fight China because then China would learn its own strength, build a fleet and defeat Britain.

NB: immigration to Australia: Aust imposed a tax per head. As a direct result, women did not come because they were not commercially productive and couldn’t, therefore, repay the 10 pounds it cost to get them in.

My take: I know very, very little about Chinese history or the scholarship thereof. This guy was really interesting. It’s terrible, the little we know about the contributions of non-Europeans to Australian society.