About this Event
The pandemic has kept all of us inside and increased the popularity of games such as puzzles and chess. In this discussion, learn about another game which increased in popularity this past year, Mah Jong.
Mah Jong is a game played with 144 tiles, originally created in Qing Dynasty China. Now it is a game played around the world, with a rich history and community in the United States.
Panelist will explore the unique history of the Chinese game, Mah Jong, in the U.S. as an example of cultural exchange and how a game can form and engage identity and community. Is Mah Jong an example of people-to-people exchange, or something different? We will try to answer that question.
Annelise Heinz is an American History professor at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity, and sexuality. She is the author of Mahjong: A Chinese Game and the Making of Modern American Culture, which explores the American history of the Chinese parlor game mahjong in the first half of the twentieth century. This book follows the history of one game to think about how, in their daily lives, individuals create and experience cultural change.
Patrick Hamilton has taught Mah Jong in the local Washington, D.C. area. Growing up, his house had Mah-Jong sets and an extended family of uncles and cousins played because of a Great-Aunt who was an importer. Since the late 1970’s his academic and career interests made him a regular traveler to Asia. Knowing Mah Jong has been his introduction to communities from far Western Tibet to Hong Kong, southern Yunnan Province to the Mongolian border. He has coached Mah Jong for senior citizen living on Capitol Hill and has seen the positive effects it has on maintaining community and social contact and in reducing memory deterioration.
Gregg Swain is the co-author of American Mah Jong for Everyone: A Beginners Guide, which introduces beginners to the game, and Mahjongg: The Art of the Game, which focuses on exploring the art and meaning behind the tiles. In addition to her interest in Mahjong, she has studied Art history and earned her Doctorate in Clinical psychology, both relevant to understanding the game of Mah Jong.