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Weijia Li, “A German-Jewish ‘University’ in China during World War II: A Unique Case of Transnational Refugee Education”

October 15, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Weija Li, Assistant Professor of German & Director of the Global Higher Education Master’s Program

Co-sponsored by the Center for German & European Studies (CGES), WISCAPE, the Center for East Asian Studies, the Mosse Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, and the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic. 

Weijia Li, assistant professor of German and the director of the Global Higher Education Master’s Program within the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at UW-Madison, will focus on a German-Jewish refugee community in Shanghai, China during World War II.

From 1938 to 1941, more than 17,000 German and Austrian Jewish refugees, along with about 2,000 Polish Jews, fled from the Nazi terror to Shanghai, China. The Chinese harbor city thus became a safe haven for a Jewish diaspora in East Asia. The refugees’ hope to use Shanghai as a temporary waiting room for their transfer to North America or elsewhere was soon wrecked by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the breakout of the Pacific War. As a result, they ended up spending a decade in China.

During his talk, Dr. Li will illustrate how the European Jewish refugees sustained their educational aspirations and efforts by creating various educational institutions in the war-torn Chinese city, including establishing a continuing education center grounded in the German concept of “Volkshochschule” (people’s university). Furthermore, ​Li will discuss how Jewish refugees’ educational tradition intersected with China’s political and societal frameworks. Drawing upon Shanghai’s Jewish adult education as a unique case, ​the talk will address how transnational refugee education could overcome deficit models and cultural homogenization.

This event is free and open to the public.

Lunch will be served! RSVP HERE


October 15, 2019
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Category:


159 WI Idea Room, Education Building
1000 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706 United States
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