Cambria Press author Charlotte Furth (AAS 2017 speech)

Cambria Press author Charlotte Furth (University of Southern California) spoke about her new book Opening to China: A Memoir of Normalization, 1981–1982 at the Cambria Press  reception.

Watch Professor Charlotte Furth’s speech
at the Cambria Press reception

Cambria Press author Charlotte Furth publication Opening to China

Below is a transcript of Professor Charlotte Furth’s speech:

“Many of you here may not even remember what it was like to study China during the Cold War, when we could not go there.  But I began my teaching career in the mid-1960s, at its height.  PRC was hidden behind the Bamboo Curtain.  Taiwan and Hong Kong didn’t really count… You then can imagine  how we responded to Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.  Thrilled!  The decade that followed was one of  very tentative rapprochement and  limited travel, via delegations approved by PRC authorities.  Think  “socialist tourism”  two week guided tours, itineraries chosen by our hosts. .   Nonetheless, we all schemed to get a place on a delegation—and then we wondered what on earth we had seen (1970s were  the height of the cultural revolution as it turned out).

Then in 1979  President Carter negotiated full diplomatic relations.  Among the changes: a full  American diplomatic mission in Beijing, some Western journalists could be posted there, a few big banks set up shop, and the Fulbright program  of  international exchange of scholars and  teachers, suspended since 1950, was resumed.

And I wangled a year in Beijing as a Fulbright teacher.  Why and how the Chinese authorities choose a historian of China to teach young Chinese scholars about America is a curious story. The details are in the memoir, but it is one of many that show how uncertain PCR leaders were  about the new relationship between  us Americans and the Chinese—and also about the future direction of their own country.  My students weren’t ordinary university students: they were mostly young and a few middle-aged scholars— products of education in Mao’s China.  All one way or another had assignments to teach college-level English.  They came to Beijing from all over the nation.  Of course they were woefully unprepared: torn between curiosity about the outside world and anxiety about their own futures.  But their lives were an amazing window into the revolutions history.

So the memoir is the story of our mutual encounter.  I’d left my husband and daughter to embark on this adventure alone—and I wrote in detail about daily life in letters home—so  much detail that my husband complained that I didn’t seem to miss him. It was true…I knew the letters would be a record of an unusual experience..and I also knew when I came home in 1982 that I wasn’t ready to write about it all.  Thirty five years later, you have it. I am glad I  lived long enough to do this!”

* * * * *

Based on Professor Furth’s detailed notes and letters home at the time, this book evokes the unique atmosphere of expectation and frustration that characterized the first years of normalization. This book is a valuable account for specialists on Sino-American relations and on the formative years of the generation of Chinese who lead the People’s Republic of China today. It is also a fascinating read for anyone who wants to explore the pleasures and perils of Chinese and American struggles to understand one another.

Title: Opening to China: A Memoir of Normalization, 1981–1982
Author: Charlotte Furth
Publisher: Cambria Press
ISBN: 9781604979848
158 pp.  |   2017   |   Paper & E-book
Book Webpage:

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NEW PUBLICATION: Africans in China is now available! Read Author Q&A Session with Professor Adams Bodomo


Cambria Press is pleased to announce that Africans in China: A Sociocultural Study and Its Implications on Africa-China Relations by Adams Bodomo is now available.

Below is a transcript of the Q&A session with Professor Bodomo.


 1. Why did you decide to write this book?

I decided to write Africans in China because I wanted to tell the story of one the most amazing events that began at the turn of the millennium and is continuing to this day: the migration of Africans into China and the formation of communities there.

In the 1990s China’s economy began to grow very fast, and the government of this vast country of some 1.5 billion people began to look for reliable sources of energy to fuel their country’s fast growing economy. They turned to Africa. This resulted in intensified government-to-government relations between China and the various African countries. This, in turn, led to growing people-to-people relations, an increasing interaction between ordinary Africans and ordinary Chinese, with Chinese migrating to Africa and settling there and with Africans migrating to China and forming communities there.

There are now about two million Chinese in Africa and about half a million Africans in China.  These Africans are distributed all over China, but with large concentrations in southern Chinese cities such as Hong Kong, Macau, Yiwu, and, especially, Guangzhou, which hosts the largest African community.

Africans in China is the first book-length description and analysis of this significant people-to-people contact involving Africans and Chinese within China’s boundaries.

As an African myself, one of the first and till now one of very few African professors at the University of Hong Kong in China, I found myself at the right time, in the right environment, with the right kind of expertise to observe, describe, document, analyze, and explain this important aspect of Africa – China relations at the beginning of the 21st Century.

To understand Africans in China, one needs to understand the sociocultural backgrounds of their African origins and to understand Africans in China one needs to understand the sociopolitical contexts in which they live in China. As someone who grew up in Africa and as someone who has observed the Chinese sociopolitical system for 15 years, I am honored to have had the right knowledge bases to tell this beautiful global story about human migration and the formation of a Diaspora at the very beginning of the 21st Century.

2.  What do you hope your readers take away from your book?

I hope that readers will find information that will help them find answers to important questions like why Africans go to China, how many Africans are there in China, which African countries do they come from, where in China are they found, what do they do there, and how are they received by the Chinese people and the Chinese state?

This is a book that most scholars of African studies, Asian studies, Diaspora studies, Global Studies, and the general public would want to read. This is a story about African agency, about Africans braving all odds to make a living for themselves in foreign lands. Ultimately it is a human story about people travelling to distant lands with the hope of fulfilling a beautiful dream.

3.  What other research do you believe is needed on this topic?

More scholars, including young research students, journalists, and established experts, should follow up on the issues raised in the book. Two major research strands are needed as followup work to this book.

First, the book has mainly described the African presence in major cities and urban centers such as Hong Kong, Macau, Guangzhou, Yiwu, Shanghai, and Beijing. However, Africans are increasingly migrating to second-tier cities, towns, and even villages. It would be important to have research conducted on these newer settlements to observe and describe the African communities that are being formed there.

Second, the book has also identified different groups of Africans, including traders, students, sportsmen, artists, and teachers. However, the description in the book has concentrated mainly on traders and, to some extent, on students. More research is needed to further observe these two main groups and the other smaller ones. I hope that my book, Africans in China, will generate a lot of discussion among experts, students, and the general reading public towards a more and more in-depth understanding of the evolving African Diaspora in China.


This book is a vital resource not only for those in African and Asian studies but also for those in ethnic and immigrant studies, international studies, and sociology.

Recommend this book to your librarian today! They can order it directly from Cambria Press or they can order through their preferred academic book wholesaler (Cambria Press is on the approval list of premier wholesalers like YBP).

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