Academic Lecture Series

Every January since 1956, the DCA Academic Lecture Series has brought topical, global issues in focus, offering attendees first-hand knowledge of the issues.

January 2020 series topic – “China’s Global Reach”
Challenge and Change Under Xi Jinping

Concentration Camps, Sinicizing Religion and China’s New Assimilationism
James Millward, Georgetown University

James A. Millward is Professor of Intersocietal History at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, teaching Chinese, Central Asian and world history. He is also an affiliated professor in the Máster Oficial en Estudios de Asia Oriental at the University of Granada, Spain. His specialties include Qing empire; the silk road; Eurasian lutes and music in history; and historical and contemporary Xinjiang. He follows and comments on current issues regarding the Uyghurs and PRC ethnicity policy.

Millward has served on the boards of the Association for Asian Studies (China and Inner Asia Council) and the Central Eurasian Studies Society, and was president of the Central Eurasian Studies Society in 2010. He is the series editor for the “Silk Roads” book series published by Chicago University Press. His publications include The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction (2013), Eurasian Crossroads: a history of Xinjiang (2007), New Qing Imperial History: The Making of Inner Asian Empire at Qing Chengde (2004), and Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity and Empire in Qing Central Asia (1998). His most recent album, recorded with the band By & By, is Songs for this Old Heart. His articles and op-eds on contemporary China appear in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Review of Books and other media.

China’s Military Going Global
Isaac Kardon, U.S. Naval War College

Isaac B. Kardon, Ph.D. (孔适海) is Assistant Professor in the Department of Strategic and Operational Research at the U.S. Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, RI. He is a core member of the China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI), where he researches and writes on China’s maritime disputes, the law of the sea, Indo-Pacific maritime security and commerce, and China-Pakistan relations. Isaac also serves as managing editor of the CMSI Red Book series of monographs on Chinese maritime power, and teaches classes on Chinese politics and foreign policy to American and foreign students at NWC.

Kardon earned a Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University (2017), an M.Phil in Modern Chinese Studies from Oxford University (2009), and a B.A. in History from Dartmouth College (2005). He was formerly a Research Analyst at the National Defense University’s Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs (2009-2011), and Visiting Scholar at NYU Law (2013-2014), the PRC National Institute for South China Sea Studies in Hainan (2014), and Academia Sinica in Taipei (2015). He studied Chinese (Mandarin) at Peking University, Tsinghua University, Hainan University, and National Taiwan Normal University.

China’s Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption
Yuen Yuen Ang, University of Michigan

Yuen Yuen Ang is a political scientist and China specialist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In 2018 the Carnegie Corporation named Dr. Ang an Andrew Carnegie Fellow in recognition of her “high-caliber scholarship that applies fresh perspectives to some of the most pressing issues of our time.” Her expertise on China centers on the economy, bureaucratic politics, corruption, the changing party-state, and the nation’s growing role in global development.

Since 2016 Dr. Ang has participated in high-level dialogues and lectures at over 100 academic, global development, policy, and corporate venues around the world. Her insights and recommendations have helped reshape the understanding of China’s growth in guest appearances from Istanbul, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, to top forums across China, Europe, and America. Media features include the BBC, CNN, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg.

Her second book, China’s Gilded Age: The Paradox of Economic Boom and Vast Corruption will be the topic of the Friday, January 24 DCA presentation. She draws parallels between the rampant greed, corporate growth, and types of corruption in both China and America’s so-called Gilded Ages. She states that the rise of capitalism is based “not on the eradication of corruption, but rather on the very evolution of the quality of corruption from thuggery and theft to effective influence peddling.” Both nations expanded at a warp pace, creating a powerful nouveau riche. Dr. Ang unbundles the types of corruption in both China and the U.S. to illustrate both the harm and good it does to our economies. She declares that only by understanding ourselves can Americans meet China head-on.

Yuen Yuen Ang earned both her M.A and Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University. She is a Summa Cum Laude undergraduate of Colorado College. Dr. Ang was on the faculty of Columbia University’s SIPA before joining the University of Michigan. Born in Singapore, Dr. Ang describes herself as a cultural nomad who is a cultural outsider wherever she travels, but who has also come to appreciate a simple fact: people everywhere are fundamentally the same.

China’s Belt & Road Initiative: Paving the Way to a New Global Order?
Neysun Mahboubi, University of Pennsylvania

Neysun A. Mahboubi is a Research Scholar of the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as a Lecturer in Law at Penn Law School.  He also hosts the CSCC Podcast.  His primary academic interests are in the areas of administrative law, comparative law, and Chinese law, and his current writing focuses on the development of modern Chinese administrative law.  He has chaired the international committee of the ABA Section of Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice, advised both the Asia Foundation and the Administrative Conference of the United States on Chinese administrative procedure reform, and moderates the Comparative Administrative Law Listserv hosted by Yale Law School.  Occasionally, he comments on Chinese legal developments for CGTN America.  He has taught at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, the University of Connecticut School of Law, and Yale Law School.  Previously, he served as a trial attorney in the Civil Division (Federal Programs Branch) of the U.S. Department of Justice, and as a law clerk to Judge Douglas P. Woodlock of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School and an A.B. (Politics & EAS) from Princeton University.  You can follow him on Twitter @NeysunM.

China – U.S. Relations
Susan Thornton, Yale Law School

Susan A. Thornton is Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School and Senior Fellow at the Paul Tsai China Center. In 2018, she retired from the State Department after a 28-year diplomatic career focused primarily on East and Central Asia. In leadership roles in Washington, Thornton worked on China and Korea policy, including stabilizing relations with Taiwan, the U.S.-China Cyber Agreement, the Paris Climate Accord and led a successful negotiation in Pyongyang for monitoring of the Agreed Framework on denuclearization.

In her 18 years of overseas postings in Central Asia, Russia, the Caucasus, and China, Thornton’s leadership furthered U.S. interests and influence and maintained programs and mission morale in a host of difficult operating environments. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, she was among the first State Department Fascell Fellows and served from 1989–90 at the U.S. Consulate in Leningrad. She was also a researcher at the Foreign Policy Institute from 1987–91. Thornton holds degrees from the National Defense University’s Eisenhower School, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and Bowdoin College. She speaks Russian, Mandarin Chinese and French, is a member of numerous professional associations and is on the Board of Trustees for the Eurasia Foundation.

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Academic Lecture Series Committee
Speakers Committee Chairs: Kate Larson, Mary Genco
Speakers Committee: Kate Larson, Mary Genco, Martha Banks, Zeynep Saah, Ann Mandel, Susan Bhirud, Clare Myers
Series Coordinator: Susan Bhirud
Registrar: Christy Munro
Treasurer: Martha Banks
Mailing List: Robin Woods
Hospitality: Sally Schlachtenhaufen, Margie Anderson
Publicity: Zeynep Saah, Ann Lang, Adria Bates, Margie Anderson
Books and Maps List: Ann Lang, Robin Harvey