It is with deep sadness that we write to report the passing of James Polachek in April of COVID 19.
Jim attended the Horace Mann School in New York, received his BA at Harvard and his PhD at the University of California at Berkeley, where he studied under Frederic Wakeman, Jr.
Jim was known for his sharp wit, his linguistic brilliance and his great talent as a researcher and writer. Jim’s early work focused on Qing history and the changes in literati culture and politics that were a prelude to the dramatic challenges facing China during and after the Opium War. His book, The Inner Opium War, was published by the Council for Asian Studies/Harvard University Press in 1992 and has remained an essential resource for scholars of Qing and modern Chinese history.
Jim held professorial positions at Columbia University and Princeton University. After leaving academia to enter the private sector he worked in finance in Japan and as an international markets analyst at Baring Securities. During the 2000s Jim returned to academic pursuits, combining his love of music (he was an accomplished violinist) and his interests in the evolution of modern China in studies of music in Chinese movies and the use of music and pageantry in the 2008 Chinese Olympics. He suffered from declining health in recent years.
By Madeleine Zelin