About the event:

In this event, the moderator, Jeffrey Wasserstrom, will engage our distinguished speaker, Howard French, in a wide ranging discussion that not only moves between China and Africa, but also brings in other parts of the world, including the United States. Key themes addressed will include how the U.S. and China have engaged in the past, how they are now engaging with African countries, and how the two powers are seen in different parts of the continent. Another key theme will be the various ways that Western journalism misunderstands and sometimes misrepresents China and Africa.

In addition, Wasserstrom will ask French to reflect on Chinese events of recent years and the two will explore together ways that we have seen a mix of both surprising and predictable developments during the era of Xi Jinping, and discuss the special challenges presented by having to follow events in China from afar. There will be time set aside for the audience to pose questions to French about his reporting, his books, and his views on issues relating the parts of the world he has focused on during different parts of his varied career.

About the speaker and moderator:

Howard W. French is the author of four works of nonfiction, including most recently Born in Blackness: Africa, Africans, and the Making of the Modern World, 1471 to the Second World War (Norton - Liveright, 2021), which won the Massachusetts African American History Award for Best Non-Fiction Book in 2022, the Hurston-Wright Award in that same category, and was selected as one of the best books of the year by the Financial Times. His previous book, Everything Under the Heavens: How the Past Helps Shape China's Push for Global Power (Knopf 2017), was named as a notable book of the year by The New York Times and the Guardian. He is also the author of China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa (Knopf 2014), and A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa (Knopf 2004), also named best or notable books of the year by leading publications. He has also produced documentary photography shown and collected on four continents, and the book of photography titled Disappearing Shanghai: Photographs and Poems of an Intimate Way of Life, with Qiu Xiaolong (Homa & Sekey 2012).

Since 2008, French has been a professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Prior to that, for over two decades, he was a senior writer and foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He writes a weekly world affairs column for Foreign Policy, and tweets at @hofrench.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor’s Professor of history at the University of California, Irvine. His most recent book is Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink (Columbia Global Reports, 2020). He is researching a book on connections and comparisons between protests in China and Hong Kong from the early 1900s through the 2020s and protests in Southeast Asia across that period. This will lead to a short book published by Columbia Global Reports. He is also the author of books such as Eight Juxtapositions: China Through Imperfect Analogies from Mark Twain to Manchukuo (Penguin, 2016), co-author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford, 2018, third edition), and the editor or co-editor of several titles. He is the advising editor on China for LARB, a member of the editorial board of Dissent Magazine, and a co-founder of UCI’s Forum for the Academy and the Public. He has written reviews and commentaries for newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, as well as for a wide range of magazines, journals of opinion, and literary reviews, including TLS and The Atlantic. Find him on Twitter at @jwassers.

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