Tiananmen in History and Memory

April 26, 2014, Saturday, 9am-6pm

Fong Auditorium

Boylston Hall, Harvard Yard

Cross-generational Dialogue Panels with

Former Beijing Bureau Chiefs for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and Newsweek, former Wall Street Journal Asia op-ed editor, Professor Wu Guoguang, speechwriter for former premier Zhao Ziyang, survivor Fang Zheng,whose legs were crushed when a tank drove over him from behind while he was withdrawing from Tiananmen Square on June 4, and other 1989 student leaders and survivors.

Student Paper Panels with

Professors William Kirby, Mark Elliott, Martin Whyte, Arthur Waldron, Paul Cohen, Pei Minxin,Victor Falkenheim, Roderick MacFarquhar


Student Performance directed by Bex Kwan, Class 2014, with

Violinist Lynn Chang, Class 75, who played at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for Liu Xiaobo


Please visit our website for program, participant bios, paper abstracts, and travel information.




Who We Are

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Movement. In spring 1989, millions of Chinese took to the streets calling for political reform. The nationwide movement ended on June 4 with the People’s Liberation Army firing on unarmed civilians in the capital city of Beijing. Tiananmen remains a politically taboo topic in China today.

We are a group of students at Harvard College hailing from different regions of the world and embodying a wide range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and perspectives. We were not yet born in 1989 but were brought together by a seminar “Rebels with a Cause: Tiananmen in History and Memory” taught by Dr. Rowena He. During our time together, we studied the primary source materials of the Tiananmen Movement, heard personal accounts of student participants themselves, and explored the Tiananmen archives of the Harvard–Yenching Library. We imagined ourselves into the minds of the authorities and civilians, touched the protesters’ blood-stained clothes, and re-enacted the night of June 3rd, trying to put ourselves in the shoes of the protesters who then were around the same age as we are now. We debated and questioned everything along the way. Our learning experience shows that with free access to information and free inquiry, we as young people can indeed come to our own understanding of historical truth.


There have been hundreds of Tiananmen events in the past 24 years all over the world, but we are excited that we as undergraduate students are putting together a conference for the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Movement. Our conference will be held on April 26, a historically important date in 1989 when the first official judgment of the movement was printed in the lead editorial of the Party’s newspaper, the People’s Daily, designating the student demonstrations as premeditated and organized turmoil with anti-Party and anti-socialist motives.

The conference will include student presentation panels with faculty members serving as chairs, and cross-generational conversations among students and journalists who covered 1989, student participants and survivors of 1989, and scholars who study the topic. For us college students who were not born in 1989, Tiananmen is history; for the invited speakers, Tiananmen is memory.


It is our hope that through this conference we may give a voice to those who were silenced and that this voice will help keep the memory of June 4 alive. Join us!

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