When studying for a doctoral degree (PhD), candidates submit a thesis that provides a critical review of the current state of knowledge of the thesis subject as well as the student’s own contributions to the subject. The distinguishing criterion of doctoral graduate research is a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
Once accepted, the candidate presents the thesis orally. This oral exam is open to the public.
This study examines the historical development of the Harbin Jewish community in Northeast China from its beginning in the early 1900s to its end in the 1960s. Scholars seldom pay enough attention to the Harbin Jewish community, the largest and most influential Jewish community in Asia. This study aims to fill this significant geopolitical gap of the history of Jews in the East.
I develop two major narrative strategies in locating the Harbin Jewish Community in its historical map: (1) chronologically intertwining the development of the Harbin Jewish community within the local history of Harbin, by examining the relations between the Harbin Jewish community and its changing governors, namely, the Russian, Chinese, and Japanese policies towards the Jews; (2) investigating in parallel the contacts between the Harbin Jewish community with its contemporary Jewish communities in Shanghai, Europe and the United States, especially during the globally influential World War I and World War II period.
This study challenges the argument that the Chinese and the Jews did not cross paths in these important historical events mentioned above. By tracing the history of the Harbin Jewish community, this study demonstrates that Jewish experience in China must be perceived as a whole and the survival of the Jewish refugees in Shanghai during the Holocaust in WWII should be put into its historical context rather than a single historical accident. The Harbin Jewish community thereby has an enduring legacy in the reconstruction of postmodern historiography and international relationships.