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Fairbank Prize for Barbara Mittler

Nov 15, 2013

Prof. Barbara Mittler wins the 2013 John K. Fairbank Prize for her book "A Continuous Revolution: Making Sense of Cultural Revolution Culture". The prize will be awarded by the American Historical Association during its 128th Annual Meeting in Washington in January 2014.

Mittler’s book was selected by a prize review committee of members of the American Historical Association including Hyung-Gu Lynn, Chair (Univ. of British Columbia), Timothy S. George (Univ. of Rhode Island), Sarah Thal (Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison), and Wen-hsin Yeh (Univ. of California, Berkeley).

“In mobilizing an eclectic range of ideas to analyze a dazzling array of sources, [A Continuous Revolution] provides a systematic yet nuanced analysis of the continuities and the contradictions infusing art, politics, society, and memory in contemporary Chinese history,” noted Hyung-Gu Lynn, the 2013 Fairbank Prize committee chair and chair in Korean research at the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia.

In her book "A Continuous Revolution – Making Sense of Cultural Revolution Culture", Mittler examines the popularity of propaganda art in modern and contemporary China, and shows that this art is in fact deeply transcultural and neither the product of a xenophobic nor an iconoclastic age. The book was published by Harvard University Press in February 2013. The book is accompanied by an online exhibition and database including images, films and sounds of Cultural Revolution propaganda art, its predecessors and its postmodern parodies. A number of Cluster members (Christian Straube, Sylvia Schneider, Miriam Seeger among them) and the Heidelberg Research Architecture were involved in the creation of this database.  

The Fairbank Prize is awarded annually by the American Historical Association to honour an outstanding book in the history of China, Vietnam, Chinese Central Asia, Mongolia, Manchuria, Korea, or Japan, substantially after 1800. The prize honours the late John K. Fairbank, Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and director of the East Asian Research Center at Harvard University, and president of the Association in 1968.

The American Historical Association (AHA) is a non-profit membership organization founded in 1884 and incorporated by Congress in 1889 for the promotion of historical studies. The AHA provides leadership for the discipline, protects academic freedom, develops professional standards, aids in the pursuit and publication of scholarship, and supplies various services to sustain and enhance the work of its members. As the largest organization of historians in the United States, the AHA is comprised of over 14,000 members and serves historians representing every historical period and geographical area.

Prof. Barbara Mittler is Acting Director of the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context". Her  research interests span from Chinese music, Taiwanese literary and cultural history, encyclopaedias and comics,  women’s magazines, visuality and historiography, to satire magazines and the making of national heroes.

Further information
Fairbank Prize
American Historical Association
Book announcement by Harvard University Press
Press Release by Heidelberg University (German)
Database "A Continuous Revolution"


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