China Seminar | 11 December 1997

The Great Wall, Grand Canal, Three Gorges Dam, Dujiangyan: Reflections on Mammoth Projects in Chinese History

Daniel W. Y. Kwok Daniel W. Y. Kwok

From antiquity the Chinese state has produced prodigious feats of engineering of various types. Of the four projects mentioned in the title, perhaps only three are well known, with the Great Wall, the only one of the four not in the category of hydraulic engineering, the best known. Old and young nowadays know that it can be seen on the moon. Dujiangyan is perhaps the least known and has a significance all of its own. All four projects reflect aspects of Chinese state and society and are worth our reflection as to whether the title of “great” or “grand” is truly apt or deserved. Professor Kwok will devote the last seminar of the year to just such an examination.

Professor Kwok is a member of the history department of the University of Hawaii, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Chinese history, Chinese intellectual history and World Civilizations. He has concurrently served in numerous administrative posts, including chair of Asian Studies, chair of History Department, chair of Council of Chinese Studies, and director of Center for Chinese Studies. Among his writings are Scientism in Chinese Thought, 1900-1950; Cosmology, Ontology, and Human Efficacy: Essays in Chinese Thought (with Richard J. Smith) (1993), and the recently published Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution (translator and editor of work by Yan Jiaqi and Gao Gao) (1996), and The Urbane Imagination: Ideas of Civilization in the Chinese Garden (Kendall/Hunt, 1997).