The Fairbank Center has historically been a post-graduate research center. From the start, our purpose has been to support and advance cutting-edge scholarship in the field of Chinese Studies through sponsoring seminars and conferences, through assisting in the publication of research results, and by welcoming postdoctoral fellows, visiting scholars, and associates in research to the Center. The Center is now adding an additional mission, to include undergraduate and graduate students in its intellectual life, by awarding grants to students and student organizations, by inviting student groups to co-sponsor Center events, and by holding functions for students. The Center participates in many of the student-focused activities on campus that have a China component.
The Executive Committee meets regularly to review the programs and budget of the Fairbank Center and to advise on future planning.
View the Members of the Fairbank Center Executive Committee here
The Fairbank Center was founded in 1955 by Professor John King Fairbank, a leading scholar in modern and contemporary China studies. The Center was originally called the Center for East Asian Research. Under Professor Fairbank’s leadership, the Center took an active role in promoting the study of modern and contemporary China from a social science perspective. At the time, this focus marked a sharp departure from the field of Sinology, which had emphasized the study of texts from a humanistic perspective. The Center for East Asian Research was renamed as the John K. Fairbank Center for East Asian Research following Professor Fairbank’s retirement, in honor of his signal contributions to China studies through his teaching and publications.
John King Fairbank
photograph by Gwendolyn Stewart
Arriving in Peking in 1932 to marry John Fairbank, Wilma Fairbank found herself "suddenly immersed in sensory stimuli so fresh and immediate" that she became overwhelmed. As a response to this new world around her, she began to spontaneously draw and paint the people, places, and adventures that interested her and that she grew to love. She also wrote brief comments to accompany her images, in order to try to further capture the impact that China, and in particular Peking, had on her. These images and words offer a glimpse of what life was like for Wilma Fairbank during her time in China in the 1930s, and allow us to experience a part of the Fairbank's journey from that era.
View The Works of Wilma Fairbank here
The Fairbank Center is a unit of Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. The Center works closely with other Asia-focused institutions within the University including the Asia Center, the Harvard China Fund, the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, the Korea Institute, the South Asia Initiative, the Harvard-Yenching Institute and the Harvard-Yenching Library. For more information about Harvard’s global involvement please visit Harvard Worldwide.