The London Book Fair (LBF), due to take place on 10-12 March 2020, was unfortunately cancelled owing to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. To commemorate the 110th anniversary of the birth of the renowned Chinese sociologist and anthropologist Professor Fei Xiaotong (1910-2005), the planned release event of Fei’s books in English, jointly published by Global Century Press (GCP) and New World Press (NWP), could not take place at the LBF. Instead, it was presented through a combination of online and offline events. The three books were: Towards a People’s Anthropology, Chinese Village Close-up and Small Towns in China. They were once included in the China Studies Series (English version), originally published by NWP in the 1980s. The new editions had been allocated to two of GCP’s series: Towards a People’s Anthropology has become Volume 1 of Understanding China and the World series, while Chinese Village Close-up and Small Towns in China are Volumes 2 and 3, respectively, of the China Urbanization Studies series.
The above photos were taken on 5th March. Professor Martin Albrow FAcSS, Honorary President of the GCA, Mr. Mwika Nyangibo, GCA’s accountant, and some visitors viewed and expressed great interest in and appreciation of these new books.
On 6th March, Mr. XIE Xiaocheng, General Manager of Cypress Books Co. Ltd, brought two books and a special edition of China Pictorial (English and Chinese editions) to a ‘mini display’ jointly organized by GCA and Cypress Books. The books were Stories of Courage and Determination: Wuhan in Coronavirus Lockdown, and China's Battle against the Coronavirus: A Daily Log, published by Foreign Languages Press (photo below).
The president of NWP, Mr. Chunkai Li, wrote that he was very pleased to see that GCP had published these three books in the UK promptly during the difficult period of the coronavirus pandemic. Ingrid Cranfield (bottom left), Vice-President of GCA and President of GCP, introduced the three books briefly and reiterated that we are proud to republish the great sociologist Fei Xiaotong’s works.
Professor FANG Lili (bottom right), President of the Chinese Society for Anthropology of Arts, Chair Professor of Southeast University and Director of the Institute of Art Anthropology and Sociology, was fortunate to receive academic guidance from Fei Xiaotong for ten years. She believes that, in the context of the present fight against the pandemic, it is of great importance for us to re-read Fei Xiaotong's work. Mr. Fei realized early on that a global society was beginning to form at the end of the 19th century. Even at the beginning of the 20th century, when he studied the rural areas of China, the rural areas of China were connected with the rest of the world. The economic depression of the 1920s and the development of industrial civilization affected the fate even of China's small mountain villages. His research always focused on China in a village and the world in China. Therefore, in his later years, he wrote, “Appreciate the culture/values of others as you do your own, and the world will become a harmonious whole”.
In an interview with Xinhua News Agency before visiting the mini display, Professor Martin Albrow (top left), Honorary Vice-President of the British Sociological Association (BSA), Honorary President of GCA, said that Fei Xiaotong had been mentioned as one of the greatest social scientists in a book that Prof. Albrow wrote 20 years ago, but that the West still does not fully appreciate his contribution to the social sciences worldwide, unlike his contributions to policy making in China’s development.
Professor LI Qiang (top right), former Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Tsinghua University, Honorary Chinese President of GCA, said that it is of great significance the Global Century Press and New World Press have jointly republished three of Fei’s books at this time. The book on small towns in particular reflects Professor Fei's deep thinking about China's development. Fei believed that there should be a kind of intermediate between big cities and rural areas, which gave impetus to the massive and rapid proliferation of small towns, contrary to the then policy of developing large cities. There are currently more than 600 large cities in China, and about 30,000 small towns, all of which play an extremely important role in China's economic and social development.
Professor Xiangqun Chang (bottom left), President of GCA and Honorary Professor of University College London, said that, in 1986, Professor Fei donated these three books to his alma mater, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). The Chinese versions of these books are well known by Chinese social scientists and very helpful aids to undersdanding China’s development. Unfortunately, the three books were removed from the LSE library because too few people had borrowed them. Prof. Chang said she hoped that their republication would help people in the non-Chinese-speaking world to gain a better understanding of Chinese society and its development in the past decades.
Professor XIE Lizhong (bottom right), Director of the Centre for Social Theory Research at Peking University, Chinese President of GCA, said that Professor Fei Xiaotong devoted himself not only to the sinicization of sociology and anthropology but also to academic research into practical Chinese social development, and had made outstanding contributions to the creation of contemporary Chinese sociology and anthropology and the formulation of contemporary Chinese social development policies. Many of his works, such as Peasant Life in China, Shengyu zhidu 《生育制度》 (The institutions for reproduction), From the Soil and China’s Gentry, have become classics of Chinese sociology and anthropology. Unfortunately, for various reasons, foreign scholars do not know much about Fei Xiaotong’s writings, which limits the influence of his sociological and anthropological thoughts abroad. Prof. XIE said he believed these three republished works could make up for this lack to a certain extent, and hoped that they would give foreign readers a better understanding of Fei Xiaotong’s thoughts, Chinese sociology and anthropology and Chinese society.
This combination of offline and online activities was supported by Mr DU Yichao, the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs Chevening Scholar, President of Wuxi New Culture Research Institute of China, and his colleagues, in the form of transcribing video contents, English-Chinese translation and efficient and professional production of dual-langage videos.