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Keith Clark

Biography

Keith Clark is a PhD candidate in East Asian history who specializes in modern Chinese history, with a minor field in global history. He is also a member of NU’s Asian Studies Graduate Cluster. His research has been supported in China through a Fulbright Fellowship and in Taiwan by a Center for Chinese Studies research grant. His dissertation writing is currently supported through a Quinn Fellowship from the Chabraja Center for Historical Studies.

In his dissertation, “Defining China: Beijing, Taipei, and the United Nations’ ‘China Seat,’ 1949-1992,” Keith examines how the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Republic of China (ROC) competed to represent “China” after 1949, and the international consequences of that competition. A central theme of “Defining China” is that both the PRC and ROC developed distinct models of China to support their legitimacy, and the UN was a key venue for demonstrating international legitimacy. By going beyond 1971, to the ROC’s 1992 democratic reforms, he analyzes both states with and without access to the world body to show how UN membership, or lack thereof, shaped their constructions of China and how those constructions, in turn, shaped their domestic and foreign policies. Going beyond 1971 also illustrates shifting Chinese attitudes towards the UN and theories of diplomacy in both states. China’s complicated status also influenced Cold War international relations as the United States and Soviet Union competed to gather allies in the world body. Furthermore, he elucidates how the PRC and ROC presented the Chinese nation at home and abroad to demonstrate how concepts of the nation are deeply imbricated with territoriality and disaggregates the nation-state by clarifying how states shape narratives of the nation.

Raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, Keith served four years in the United States Marine Corps, primarily deployed to and around Okinawa, Japan. He holds a BA in sociology, magna cum laude, and an MA in American history from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He has taught high school in North Carolina, university in Hefei and Nanjing, China, and worked as a teaching assistant for UNCW and NU.

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