History in Images, History in Words: In Search of Facts in Documentary Filmmaking

History in Images, History in Words: 

In Search of Facts 
in Documentary Filmmaking

A lecture by Carma Hinton

Robinson Professor of Visual Culture and Chinese Studies at George Mason University

Monday April 10, 2017 from 4-7 pm

at the Photonics Center (9th fl.), 8 St. Mary’s Street, Boston University

17_4_10 Carma_semifinal as of 3.20.17 1038amMy presentation will focus on the process of documentary filmmaking, especially the many challenges my team and I faced in trying to create engaging filmic narratives that are both factually accurate and encompass multiple perspectives. I will use excerpts from my films as well as out-takes to illustrate the difficulties in determining what information to include and exclude, assess the compromises involved in the choices, and explore the consequences of taking various possible paths. I will also address the different problems that a historian encounters when presenting history in images as opposed to in words: the potential and limitation of each medium and what information each might privilege or obscure.  I believe that in this age of “alternative facts” and “parallel universes,” reflections on the challenges in obtaining authenticity and truth and the importance of relentlessly striving to reach this goal, take on particularly urgent meaning.

About the speaker:

Carma Hinton is an art historian and a filmmaker. She received her Ph.D. in Art History from Harvard University and is now Robinson Professor of Visual Culture and Chinese Studies at George Mason University. Together with Richard Gordon, Hinton has directed many documentary films, including Small Happiness, All Under Heaven, To Taste a Hundred Herbs, Abode of Illusion: The Life and Art of Chang Dai-chien, The Gate of Heavenly Peace, and Morning Sun. She has won two Peabody Awards, the American Historical Association’s John E. O’Connor Film Award, the International Critics Prize and the Best Social and Political Documentary at the Banff Television Festival, and a National News & Documentary Emmy, among others. Hinton is currently working on a book about Chinese scrolls depicting the theme of demon quelling. Carma Hinton was born in Beijing. Chinese is her first language and culture.

Carma Hinton and Richard Gordon 1989

Forum: Understanding North Korea and Possibilities


Understanding North Korea and Possibilities from Diplomacy to Nuclear War

6:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Wednesday, October 11 2017

The forum will be held at: 

Howard Thurman Center, Great Room
775 Commonwealth Ave, Basement 

What do you know about North Korea other than that it poses one of the biggest dangers for nuclear war in the world, and that its leader, Kim Jung-un, and President Trump keep raising the temperature between the two countries?

Shouldn’t you know more? Come to the BU Student-Faculty Forum: Understanding North Korea and Possibilities from Diplomacy to Nuclear War on Wednesday, October 11, 6:30-8:00 p.m., in the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground (GSU lower level).

The Korean War between the North and South broke out in 1950, with the United States deeply involved. Although the Korean Armistice Treaty was signed in 1953, no peace treaty has ever been signed, so the war is not over, and from time to time tensions flare to threaten it heating up again. The UN has sanctioned North Korea for its nuclear weapons development and tests, and not only has it recently tested even more powerful bombs, it has been testing missile systems over Japanese territory, and using missiles perhaps capable of reaching American targets. Kim Jung-un, the leader of North Korea, and Donald Trump have been increasing tensions through their words with Trump calling Kim “Rocket Man,” and Kim calling Trump a “dotard.” At the UN, Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea.”

During the Student-Faculty Forum 4 BU experts will offer brief remarks to help us all become more informed about North Korea and the possibilities of peace and war. They are Professors Thomas Berger, an expert on Asian politics and international relations; Neta Crawford, an expert on international relations theory, war, and peace-building; Robert Loftis, a career member of the U.S. Foreign Service, retired Ambassador, and leader of political-military negotiations with the Republic of Korea in 2004-07; and Jayita Sarkar, a historian with expertise in U.S. foreign policy and nuclear proliferation. We will leave plenty of time for questions and discussion.

Appetizers will be served.


Borders in Modern Asia Workshop Inaugural Lecture

Nivedita Final Poster-1 2

Borders in Modern Asia Workshop Inaugural Lecture

Sister Nivedita’s Narrative of Inclusiveness
Reba Som, 
Historian and author of Margot (2017)

Chaired by Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of History

Thursday, October 12 2017, 4:00-6:00pm
Robinson Hall Lower Library, 35 Quincy St
Harvard University 


Please join us for the inaugural session of a new graduate research workshop at Harvard, “Borders in Modern Asia,” dedicated to the critical study of border-making and border-crossing in terrestrial and maritime Asia. Our first session commemorates the 150th birth anniversary of a remarkable figure, Margaret Noble, an Irish spiritual and political leader who followed the Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda to India and became his principal disciple and successor. She was named “Nivedita”-the devoted one-by Vivekananda, and emerged to play a crucial part in Indian nationalism, pan-Asianism and other key events. Thus in her exemplary life, Sister Nivedita crossed several sorts of borders, geographical and spiritual. The celebration of her birth anniversary at Harvard is especially significant, since she was a frequent visitor to the philanthropist Sara Bull’s house in Cambridge. 

Reba Som, renowned historian and author of Margot (2017)a new biography of Nivedita,
shows how Nivedita came to India determined not to critique but to comprehend. She had a compassionate understanding of Indian society, culture, religion and politics, the bewildering diversity of which she had to face but in which she discovered a web of continuity.  Her holistic vision made her often draw comparisons between what she observed in India and the world scenario. The Japanese artist Okakura’s world view of a pan Asian reality impressed her and she hoped that a similar pan Indian identity could be forged. All of this becomes rather relevant in the fragile times that we are in.
 This event has been sponsored by the Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of History, South Asia Initiative and Center for the Study of World Religions at the Harvard Divinity School.

BU Fall Career Fair: 2018 JET Program Recruiting

2018 JET Program Recruiting- Opportunities for students in Japan

JETAs you may know, this year marks the beginning of the 30th year of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program.  Currently, more than 5,100 young people from 44 countries are participating in JET, sharing their own culture, helping to encourage English language learning and broadening their own perspectives by living and working in Japan.

Although students may not apply before the fall of their senior year, we encourage any student who may be interested in applying in the future to stop by and learn about the possibilities.  Most JET Program positions do not require Japanese language ability or teaching experience, but we certainly look favorably upon those who have studied language, culture, technique and theory.

Applications will open the last week of September. The deadline for applying to the 2018 JET Program is twofold, this year: online documents to be submitted by November 9th, while physical copies must be postmarked for receipt in Washington DC by November 18th.  Potential candidates are encouraged to visit the new US JET Program website to learn more and to apply: JETprogramUSA.org

Visit the JET Program table at:

BU Fall Career Fair 2017

Date: Wednesday, October 18th
Time: 10:30am – 3:30pm
Location: Center for Career Development, 775 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA

JET: The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program

The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program is an extraordinary opportunity for college graduates to live and work in Japan.  Sponsored by the Japanese Government, the program’s goals are to improve English language education and promote grass-roots level international exchange in Japan. 
Candidates interested in joining the next session of JET which will begin in the summer of 2018 should apply this fall by visiting the US JET Program website:  JETprogramUSA.org  
Applications will open the last week of September. The deadline for applying to the 2018 JET Program is twofold, this year: online documents to be submitted by November 9th, while physical copies must be postmarked for receipt in Washington DC by November 18th, 2017. 
JET Program Positions
ALT – Assistant Language Teacher: ALTs assist Japanese teachers in public school English classes and local boards of education. They participate in school and community activities.
There is no Japanese language requirement for ALTs but Japanese language ability is looked upon favorably. More than 90% of all JETs work as ALTs.
CIR – Coordinator for International Relations: CIRs are engaged in international exchange activities at the local government level. They receive overseas guests, translate foreign publications into Japanese, teach English and interpret at various events. They also cooperate and give advice in planning and implementing international exchange events. Most CIRs also have some teaching duties. **A good command of Japanese is required for CIRs.
Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s Degree by July 15, 2018. JET is open to citizens of 40 countries, but candidates must apply in their country of citizenship. The JET Program seeks candidates who are mature, flexible and interested in learning about Japan while sharing their own culture.
JET provides transportation to and from Japan and remuneration of JY 3,360,000 per year which JETs use to pay their living expenses, including housing. Housing is usually arranged by the Contracting Organization.
Candidates should apply this fall for positions which begin in late July 2018.
The application information for US citizens is available here: JETprogramUSA.org    
The online deadline is November 9th, and a physical copy must be received in Washington DC by November 18th, 2017. 
Citizens of other participating countries can find further information at www.jetprogramme.org
For more information contact:
                                                            JET Program Office
                                                            Consulate General of Japan in Boston
                                                            (617) 973-9772

Cambridge China Politics Research Workshop (CCPRW)

Harvard-MIT-BU Workshop

Cambridge China Politics Research Workshop (CCPRW)

Wednesday, September 20 2017
6:00 – 7:30pm

The workshop will be held at:
Harvard University in CGIS South room (1730 Cambridge St.)

The Harvard-MIT-BU Chinese Politics Research Workshop will be meeting this 
Wednesday, September 20. We are excited to welcome Qi Zhang. Qi will be presenting a paper titled: One Country, Two Systems of Sovereign Immunity”. We will meet at Harvard University in CGIS South room 153 (1730 Cambridge St.) from 6-7:30 pm. As usual, dinner will be served.  

Language, interpreted as a tool for information transmission and social interaction, has profound economic implications that are not fully understood. This paper comprehensively evaluates how language unification affects both tangible behaviors – education attainment, subsequent labor market performance, migration; and intangible shifts in mindsets – views on democracy, preference on free market or government intervention, sense of national integration, evaluation of government performance, more broadly ideology and social preference. Exploring a nation-wide language educational reform Chinese Pinyin Act Reform 1958-1960, I estimate language effects with difference-in-difference approach through interacting birth cohort exposure with linguistic distances between local languages and the modern standard Mandarin. This paper presents five main findings: (1) learning the unified language, modern standard Mandarin, exhibits short-run negative shock but modest long-run improvement in education attainment; (2) Modern standard Mandarin learning increases rural households’ participation in the non-agricultural sectors; (3) Common language integrates the national labor market by increasing migration across provinces and language regions; (4) Language unification also integrates the country cognitively and benefits the state formation through fostering patriotism, stronger national identity and better subjective evaluation of China; and (5) Language unification also increases political news consumption, affects informational acquisition channels, changes attitudes towards democracy, improves subjective evaluation of government performance and favors government intervention over economic liberalism. These changes in ideology and social preference are consistent with the political doctrine by Chinese Communist Party.


Wen-hao Tien: Weed Out

You are invited to: 

Wen-hao Tien: Weed Out
Exhibition Opening Reception
September 22, 6-8 PM

Holzwasser Gallery | New Art Center
61 Washington Park, Newtonville, MA

Email invite

Wen-hao Tien: Weed Out

On View in the Holzwasser Gallery: September 22 – October 19, 2017
Opening Reception: September 22, 6-8PM


Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 1.09.11 PM
Artist Wen-hao Tien gathers weeds, 2017.

Wen-hao Tien’s installation, Weed Out, is the result of her hunt for traces of wilderness in the city, namely, plants that normally go unnoticed — or, if noticed, are usually pulled out or mowed over. These plants are weeds, considered by many to be unsightly nuisances.

For this installation, Tien transplanted weeds from across New England into a living sculpture, which will continue to grow and change throughout the exhibition. An audio recording of words from various languages sheds light on linguistic habits that align with the treatment of weeds. These “weed words” have jumped from one dialect to another, just as many plants flourish in unexpected places, and are valued quite differently depending on both the location and the viewer.

What are “pure” words and plant species, versus “invasive”? How do powerful forces such as migration, rejection, and assimilation affect cultural norms as well as the natural world? Tien’s installation invites viewers to dwell on these questions by interacting with the growing sculpture. Tien will regularly supply more “weeds” to an interactive installation, which visitors can weed-in or weed-out, as they wish.



Wen-hao Tien is a visual artist, educator, and Assistant Director of Boston University Pardee School of Global Studies.

Initially growing up in Taiwan, Tien later moved to the United States to pursue graduate studies. Her studio artwork focuses on language and translation, and explores culture and identity through a unique cross-cultural lens. She is also known for her contemporary Chinese calligraphy and painting.

A long-time Cambridge resident, her professional background includes 15 years working in the Center for Government and International Studies (CGIS) community. Tien holds a Master of Public Health from Columbia University and is currently a candidate for a Master of Fine Arts at Lesley University’s College of Art and Design.

For more information, download New Art Center’s Weed Out press release here, or visit New Art Center’s exhibition page here

Asian Studies Fall Reception 2017

Date: Monday, September 25 2017
Time: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Location: Boston University Photonics Center, 8 St. Mary’s Street

Let’s celebrate! Join us for the annual Asian Studies Fall Reception, brought to you by Boston University Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA) and Asian Studies Initiative at Boston University (ASIABU). Enjoy delicious food, catch up with old friends, make new ones as we kick off the new academic year together. Learn more about our new projects and upcoming events planned around our annual theme of “Asia’s Cultural Heritage” and find out how YOU can become more involved in building our community.

Please RSVP to whtien@bu.edu or via the form below. Thanks and hope to see you all there!

RSVP: 2017 Fall Reception

Fall 2017 GSHAAA Guest Scholar Lecture Series

Fall 2017 GSHAAA Guest Scholar Lecture Series

“A Park for Many Reasons: Herding History, Art, and Animals in Modern Kyoto”
A Lecture by Dr. Alice Tseng

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
5:30 PM, Reception to Follow

The Lecture will take place at:
Boston University
725 Commonwealth Avenue
Room 200

Lecture Series

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 5:30PM @ CAS200
Alice Y. Tseng
Associate Professor, History of Art and Architecture
Boston University
“A Park for Many Reasons: Herding History, Art, and Animals in Modern Kyoto”

 Tuesday, November 14, 2017 6:00PM @ CAS200
Patricio del Real
Assistant Professor, History of Art and Architecture
Harvard University
Wednesday, November 29, 2017 5:30PM @ CAS200
Jonathan Foltz
Assistant Professor, English
Boston University

Director’s lunchtime talk: Manjari Miller


Director’s lunchtime talk:

Manjari Miller
“No apologies required: India, redress and domestic narratives on colonialism”

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The lunchtime talk will take place at:
Boston University
121 Bay State Road

Before joining Boston University, Manjari Miller completed her PhD at Harvard University, and was a post-doctoral fellowship at Princeton University. Her work focuses on foreign policy, ideology, and security, with a focus on South and East Asia, particularly the rising powers, India and China. Her book, Wronged by Empire: Post-Imperial Ideology and Foreign Policy in India and China, argues that the bitter history of colonialism affects the foreign policy behavior of India and China even today. She is currently working on rising powers, and the domestic ideational frameworks that explain their changing status. Her talk next Wednesday is entitled: “No apologies required: India, redress, and domestic narratives on colonialism.” Please come and join us at the lunch talk!