Dr. Bernadette Yu Nin Li - "Catching History in the Making"
NYJPW is honored to present this month's extraordinary award to the most outstanding successful Historian, Dr. Bernadette Yu Ning Li. Dr. Li received her B.A. in History from the National Taiwan University, and Ph.D. in History from Columbia Univesity. She is Professor of Asian Studies and Asian American Studies at St. John's University in New York City. A scholar-teacher by profession, she is at the same time active in community affairs; a historian by training. Dr. Li is always keen about the world around her. Dr. Li experiments with enthusiasm and dedication her innovative theory of
"Catching History in the Making"
When Cheng-Hua Wang came to the United States and studied her Master of History degree at St. John's University, 1974, Dr. Li was one of her professors for "Modern History". Throughout all this years after Cheng-Hua graduated from St. John's university, Dr. Li is still teaching at St. John's and she is one and only the most popular and experience professor at Asisan Studies Department. Cheng-Hua respects and follows Dr. Li's continuous dedication in supporting the community and promoting the arts and culture in the American society. Dr. Li has set up the good model for Cheng-Hua. Up to today, Dr. Li has founding many organizations and publishing company to not only catching the history in the making, but also to publish the books to leave a true proof for the current history to next generation. NYJPW respects Dr. Li's contribution to the current history and recording the trend of development, i.e. promotion of Flushing history in New York. NYJPW solutes to our most dedicated modern historian, Dr. Bernadette Yu Ning Li.
"Career and Work Achievement" Summrized by Dr. Li Yu-ning (also known as Bernadette Yu Nin Li)|
Contributions to Studies of Chinese History
(1) Since 1968 with the founding of Chinese Studies in History, a quarterly academic journal of translations and original articles published by M.E.Sharpe, I have been the editor of this journal. The journal has been the broad window through which English readers get a view of diverse contemporary Chinese academic publications on history. At the same time, it is a showcase for contemporary Chinese historical scholars facing the outside world. Major Chinese studies centers worldwide subscribe to this journal.
(2) When I started in Chinese women's studies in the early 1970s, the field was new. The two volumes (over 1500 pages) of Documents on Women's Movements in Modern China (in Chinese), compiled in collaboration with Professor Chang Yu-fa of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, and published in historical materials on the subject for its being the foundation for many later monographs. Thirty years have passed and this collection remains the richest single source on women in modern China. Even though I have been doing research in other areas, I am sill remembered by many as a pioneer in Chinese women's studies.
(3) The International Society for Hu Shih Studies, which I founded in 1990, has greatly promoted studies of Hu Shih (1891-1962), the leading intellectual for liberalism, democracy, and Americanization in modern China. Since then, I have edited and published 12 volumes of Hu Shih studies, which have stimulated numerous publications on Hu Shih.
With Hu Shih studies, I have not only accumulated a large amount of valuable materials, but also put forward a new historical method, that is, to extend studies of historical figures to the people they knew and who knew them, in the case of Hu, his family and friends. The conventional way of studying historical figures is to take the chronological approach, whereas I have promoted studies of intersecting multi-lateral relations, in order to enhance perspectives and objectivity. My work in this regard has won recognition as an innovator in historical method.
(4) Chinese with an American education have constituted a most important and influential grouping in China since the late 19th century. But little research has been done on them. The Society for the Study of Chinese with an American Education, which I founded in 1996, has not only opened a new field but also published 6 books. More result will be produced in the near future.
(5) Columbia University in New York City has no peer in terms of its impact and influence in China, for it trained countless notable and influential Chinese who were inseparable from China's modern transformation. As part of the programs in celebration of Columbia's 250th anniversary, I was asked by Columbia Trustees to organize an international academic conference called "Columbia University's Chinese Connection", which was held at Columbia on September 10-11, 2004. It consisted of 12 panels on a wide range of topics, such as: diplomacy, economics, philosophy, education, arts, sciences. Papers delivered at this conference, together with other relevant materials, are now being edited by me for publication, which should enhance our knowledge of modern China and also Columbia University.
Contributions to Chinese American Studies
(1) The Conference on Chinese Contributions to America, held on October 19 to 21, 2000, was an historic conference, unique and unprecedented. It was the first time that scholars and specialists from a wide range of disciplines and personal experiences gathered to present their knowledge and ideas about Chinese contributions to America during the past century, a subject which hitherto has been neglected by Chinese and American scholars, in spite of its great importance for both Chinese and American history. The majority of conference participants (about 200 people in all) were Chinese Americans and other Americans, coming from different parts of the United States.
Prior to this conference, there had been academic conferences on Chinese American Studies, but none has been of his size, scale, or scope, and the participants were mainly scholars and specialists of Chinese American Studies. This was the first time that scholars and specialists of Chinese American Studies sat together with scholars and specialists of Chinese Studies, as well as other disciplines, to discuss matters of common interest, and thereby fully demonstrate cross-cultural trend and developments in this global age.
This conference was a milestone in the field of Chinese Studies as well as in the field of Chinese American Studies, for its pioneering endeavor to relate these previously unrelated fields. Traditionally, national boundaries impose limitations on academic horizons, and as a result, scholars of Chinese Studies and specialists of Chinese American Studies do not hold conferences together. However, the close relationships and mutual influences between Chinese and American cultures and peoples are far deeper and more extensive than has hitherto been recognized. Many materials and many individuals who were involved in this historical process remain to be explored and studied. Many Chinese and Chinese Americans have made great contributions not only to China but also to America. And yet much about their contributions has not been duly recorded, nor appreciated or recognized.
This conference was based on the belief that history is made by people of all ranks, that all professions have contributed to America's greatness, and that contributors, large and small, are all makers of history, in addition to being witnesses of history. By revealing Chinese contributions to America, the conference rewrote and reassessed both Chinese and American history as well as contemporary circumstances. The knowledge gained is useful not only for historical research but also for practical purposes.
More than one hundred essays delivered at the conference have been edited, and are scheduled for publication in 5 to 6 volumes in the summer of 2005. These volumes not only provide a large quantity of historical facts but should also improve existing images of Chinese Americans in literature and society.
(2) In order to establish Chinese American Studies as a field of research, in February 2001 I founded The Journal of Chinese American Studies as a bilingual journal, published semi-annually, in February and August every year. It carries scholarly essays, studies of outstanding personalities, valuable historical documents, and book reviews. To this date, in December 2004, it has published 8 issues. It is the first and only journal of its kind.
(3) The Publication of Chinese Americans and the September 11 Tragedy
In the days immediately following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, there appeared an enormous volume of reports and analyses of the events. For the study of history, this kind of first hand materials, known as "primary sources", are most valuable. Since the reactions of Chinese Americans to the events of 9/11 seemed to me to be a vital part of understanding reactions, both in America and throughout the world, I felt it was not only appropriate but also absolutely essential to begin gathering such materials as soon after 9/11 as possible.
New York has long been a cultural and media center for Chinese Americans. At the time of 9/11 there were five Chinese language dailies, three radio stations, two local TV stations, all staffed with bilingual professionals. Some of these newspapers and stations were located in Chinatown itself. Reporters from these organizations were among the first to arrive on the scene soon after the two planes hit the World Trade Center, and they conducted interviews with Chinese from countries in Asia. Though these accounts of the disaster were not translated at the time, and so did not appear in the English language media, they remain a vital source for studying this terrible event.
On the first anniversary of 9/11, I published 2 volumes of Chinese Americans and the September 11 Tragedy (totaling 830 pages). It was the first attempt to provide coverage of the involvement of Chinese Americans in this most important event. It covers the period from the days immediately following September 11 up to August 21, 2002. It consists of Chinese American reports, editorials, and commentaries on a wide range of events, people, events, and organizations affected by the tragedy, as well as records of seminars I conducted on the event. To this day, the publication remains the most comprehensive collection of documents on the subject.
(4) The inauguration of the journal on Chinese Americans in Science and Technology
Since the mid-19th century, counless Chinese have studied in the United States. Many, if not most, of them studied in American colleges and universities in various fields of science and technology. This has been the trend, and it is likely to continue into the foreseeable future. Amongst the many who have stayed in AMerica after graduation and become part of the work force, some have made great contributions to their respective fields, and still others have won world recognition.
By virtue of both quantity and quality, Chinese Americans in science and technology well deserve to constitute an important subject of study.
From the point of view of history, the developments and the people involved are entitled to leave some record. It seems that a good way of catching valuable materials is to establish a journal serving as a repository of materials. A journal is also a means of communication between authors and readers, and can stimulate and inspire in countless way. Hance, as a professional historian and non-profit publisher, I decided in 2003 to launch the new journal Chinese Americans in Science and Technology with the assistance of my long time friend Dr. Celia C.H. Chen, herself a scientist, serving as the editor of the journal.
The journal is bilingual. Articles written in Chinese are published in Chinese and articles written in English are published in English. It publishes scholarly articles, descriptions and autobiographies of outstanding scientists, and information on recent activities of Chinese Americans in science and technology.
It is the first journal with such a name. So far, 3 issues have been published. Each issue comprises 150-200 pages.
(5) Publication of the New Flushing Journal
I am a scholar/teacher with a commitment to community service. My work on Chinese American Studies is in a sense community service, that is, to provide historical and cultural knowledge for the Chinese community. Publication ot the New Flushing Journal is a clear demonstration. In the "Inaugural Manifesto" of the first issue, published in January 2003, I wrote:"Flushing is an immigrants' city. Flushing has helped immigrants to get started, to develop and to prosper. It is only just that immigrants should repay Flushing and America, especially at time when New York City is experiencing difficulties and hardships in many ways. Hence, the overall objective of New Flushing Journal is to promote the public interests of Flushing, of New York City, and of the United States."
So far, four issues of the Journal have appeared. Each issue comprises 150-200 pages.
It is often said of me that I am hard working and highly productive. While this general observation is valid, it would be more accurate to say that I really enjoy my work in many areas: teaching, researching, writing, and publishing. Whenever I have a new idea, I do not hesitate to put it into practice. Whenever I find a subject interesting or important, I want to share my enthusiasm with others. What interests me most are the people and the world around me, my interests are so intense and persistent that I would like to make a permanent record, and therefore, I conceive the idea of
"Catching History in the Making".
For me, history is an on-going process, all around us. I want to embrace it, hold to it, without end.