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The Great Exodus from China with Professor Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang

December 7, 2020

On April 7th, 2021, the UW Taiwan Studies Program hosted Professor Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang for a Book Talk on his recently published work, The Great Exodus from China: Trauma, Memory, and Identity in Modern Taiwan. This recorded talk is available for viewing on our YouTube channel.

This book examines one of the least understood migrations in modern East Asia – the human exodus from China to Taiwan when Chiang Kai-shek’s regime collapsed in 1949. Peeling back layers of Cold War ideological constructs, he tells a very different story from the conventional Chinese civil war historiography that focuses on debating the reasons for Communist success and Nationalist failure. Yang lays bare the traumatic aftermath of the Chinese Communist Revolution for the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people who were forcibly displaced from their homes across the sea. Underscoring the displaced population’s trauma of living in exile and their poignant ‘homecomings’ four decades later, he presents a multi-event trajectory of repeated traumatization with recurring searches for home, belonging, and identity. This thought-provoking study challenges established notions of trauma, memory, diaspora, and reconciliation.

Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang (楊孟軒) is an Assistant Professor of East Asian History in the Department of History at the University of Missouri-Columbia.