Emory College sociology professor named Public Intellectuals Fellow

By April Hunt | Emory Report | March 2, 2017

Bin Xu, a Confucius Institute professor in Emory’s Department of Sociology, has been named a fellow in a prestigious program for young China Studies Scholars sponsored by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

Xu is one of just 21 fellows in the Public Intellectuals Program (PIP) for the 2016-2018 cycle. The PIP fellowship offers him the ability to attend workshops and participate in a research trip to China, as well as the opportunity to engage with China-focused scholars, policymakers and local communities in both countries.

Xu researches the intersections of political sociology and social theory, especially in collective memory and cultural sociology in China. He says he hopes the program will help him reach a broader audience for his work.

“China is one of the global initiatives at Emory,” he says. “I hope my presence at the National Committee will enhance the visibility of Emory in the field of China studies as well as in public debates over China-related issues. “

The committee has played an important role in relations between the two countries for more than five decades, including sponsoring and coordinating the famous “Ping-Pong diplomacy” when they did not have formal relations in the 1970s.

The committee started the PIP fellowship in 2005, aiming to improve the quality of the American public’s understanding of China by strengthening the ties among academics, policymakers and the public.

Fellows such as Xu will learn how to engage the public in their work. The program is designed to take specialists working in various disciplines and have them expand their knowledge beyond their own interests.

Sociology Department Chair Timothy Dowd lauded those goals and opportunities for both Xu and Emory. “This award is a testament to the quality and import of Bin's scholarship, with him showing the relevance of sociology for understanding China in a nuanced fashion,” Dowd says.

The award caps off a busy year for Xu, who joined Emory’s faculty in the fall. His first book, “The Politics of Compassion: the Sichuan Earthquake and Civic Engagement in China,” about how Chinese citizens participated in the rescue and relief efforts after the Sichuan earthquake, is due out this year from Stanford University Press after seven years of research.

He is now at work on a new book, on the collective memory of China’s “educated youth” (zhiqing) generation — the 17 million Chinese youths sent to the countryside in the 1960s and 1970s.