Ristaino, Marcia Reynders 1939-

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RISTAINO, Marcia Reynders 1939-

Marcia R. Ristaino

PERSONAL: Surname is pronounced "ris-tan-o"; born March 25, 1939, in Butler, PA; daughter of Augustus James and Esther Kathryn (a homemaker; maiden name, Phipps) Reynders; married Richard E. Ristaino (a research analyst), November 19, 1966; children: Elizabeth Anne. Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, B.A., 1962; University of Hawaii at Manoa, M.A., 1964; Georgetown University, Ph.D., 1977. Religion: Presbyterian.

ADDRESSES: Home—13 Parkside Rd., Silver Spring, MD 20910. Offıce—Library of Congress, Washington, DC 10540.

CAREER: U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School, Washington, DC, instructor in Chinese history, 1970-72; U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, consultant on foreign affairs research, 1971-75; University of Maryland, Pentagon Center, instructor in Chinese history, 1973; Trinity College, Washington, DC, adjunct professor of East Asian history, 1979; University of Maryland, College Park, assistant professor of Chinese and East Asian history, 1979; Mount Vernon College, Washington, DC, adjunct professor of Chinese history, 1980-81; Library of Congress, Washington, DC, research analyst of Chinese foreign and domestic affairs, 1981—.

MEMBER: Association for Asian Studies.


(As Marcia R. Ristaino) China's Art of Revolution:The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928, Duke University Press (Durham, NC), 1987.

(Contributor) Robert Worden, Ronald Dolan, and Andrea Savada, editors, China: A Country Study, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress (Washington, DC), 1988.

Port of the Last Resort: Diaspora Communities ofShanghai, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 2001.

Contributor to China Quarterly.

SIDELIGHTS: Marcia Reynders Ristaino once told CA: "I became drawn to China studies as a college junior when I discovered that this immense country had a rich and ancient history and culture, but one that was largely ignored by Western teaching programs. For me, China became a kind of new frontier of learning and experience.

"Briefly interpreted, the Chinese revolution is a lengthy and complex process by which the Chinese are attempting to assume a respected place in the world community by becoming a modern, prosperous power. A major part of their goal was achieved with political unification in 1949, after years of war and internal division. The next and equally difficult phase of the revolution, requiring a different set of policies and methods, aims to produce a strong and vibrant economy, driven by a population challenged by new concepts and regularly consulted by decision makers."

In Port of the Last Resort: Diaspora Communities of Shanghai, Ristaino examines two communities—White Russians and Jews—who made old Shanghai their destination in the early part of the twentieth century. The appeal of this Chinese port city for Eastern Europeans was in its accessibility: no passport or visa was required to enter Shanghai, which made it a haven for political refugees.

First to arrive were the Russians, whose numbers swelled to 10,000 in the wake of Stalin's siege of their homeland. Their population "staged operas, ballets and plays . . . and their restaurants, millineries and fur shops helped give the French Concession its cosmopolitan character," wrote Time International reviewer Tom Bradby. But even the elite Russians who came to Shanghai suffered in exile and drifted into alcoholism, prostitution, and debt.

For Jews fleeing Hitler's terrorism, Shanghai offered more opportunity. Though marginalized, the Jews avoided outright desperation that seemed to grip the Russians. "In the end, these two large refugee communities didn't have a great deal in common and Ristaino doesn't pretend they did," noted Bradby. "Her point is that there is something uniquely awful about the experience of having to begin all over again." Though citing some weakness, saying that more "narrative panache" would help the volume, Bradby characterized Port of Last Resort as "a thoroughly researched, impressive and sometimes fascinating piece of work."



Pacific Affairs, winter, 1991, review of China's Art ofRevolution: The Mobilization of Discontent, 1927 and 1928, p. 574.

Time International, June 24, 2002, Tom Bradby, "Shelter from the Storm," review of Port of the Last Resort: Diaspora Communities of Shanghai, p. 62.*