Sojourner Truth Library Retraces Asian Heritage

Asian History has been recognized on campus.

The exhibit, “Retracing our Steps: 100 years of the Republic of China” has been created to commemorate the centennial of the Republic of China in the Sojourner Truth Library Gallery and the exhibit covers the beginning of the Xinhai (Hsinhai) Revolution of 1911 that brought down China’s last dynasty.

“It will also exhibit historical photographs that help tell the story of the past century, with a focus on developments in Taiwan,” said Kristine Harris, Asian Studies department director.

According to Harris, on Oct. 10, 1911, the Xinhai Revolution (aka the Hsinhai Revolution) broke out and within months, the ruling Qing dynasty abdicated. China had experienced many dynastic changes before, but this one brought about the end of the entire imperial system, which had evolved over more than 2000 years.

The dynasty was replaced with a new Republic of China, which had its government in Beijing and eventually in Nanjing, when Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Party took power in 1927. China experienced political turbulence over subsequent decades, but the legacy of the early Republic of China is still significant today, Harris said.

The government in Taiwan officially adheres to the name Republic of China.

According to Harris, the exhibit has been organized by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, New York (TECO-NY), who also supported the Oct. 6 reception, and is one of 12 offices under the Washington D.C.-based Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO). TECRO is Taiwan’s de-facto embassy in the United States in the absence of diplomatic ties. TECRO was established in 1979 to represent Taiwan’s interests in the US.

SUNY New Paltz is currently establishing a new partnership with National Taipei University in Taiwan.

“Several of our students went on a pilot program hosted by the university this past summer, and were unanimous in their praise for the program,” said Harris.

Two other sponsors of the event include the Asian Studies Program at the college and the Sojourner Truth Library. According to Chui-chun Lee, dean of the library, the exhibit helps further the library’s mission.

“The goals of the library exhibits are to promote library resources, highlight scholarly and creative work of our faculty and students and display materials or events of interest to the campus community,” said Lee. “We hope that the exhibits will enrich the intellectual and cultural lives of our students.”

The display will continue to run through Wednesday, Oct. 19.

“During this time, students in several Asian Studies courses and history have been assigned to attend the exhibit and write about it from various perspectives,” said Harris. “Additionally, students in the new China-US Living-Learning Community, along with students who are from Taiwan or have studied there, are also involved with various aspects of the exhibit.”

The main goal of the exhibit is an appreication of history.

“Our hope is that the exhibit will prompt an appreciation for modern Chinese history and culture over the past 100 years, and offer greater insight into local developments in Taiwan,” said Harris. “We also hope that the exhibit will contribute to campus dialogue on Asia. Already we’ve received many warm and enthusiastic responses to the exhibit!”