Dr. David Ulbrich, assistant professor of history at Rogers State University, recently traveled to China, where he presented a paper at the International Congress of Historical Sciences, one of the largest single conferences for historians.
The event, held only every five years, attracted more than 2,500 historians from around the world for the weeklong conference in Jinan, China, at the end of August.
Dr. Ulbrich presented his paper, “’Self’ and ‘Other’: Constructions of Race and Gender in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II” in which he traces the Marine Corps’ portrayals of race and gender from 1900 through World War II.
In his paper, he noted that the early decades of the 20th century in the Marine Corps’ history were dominated by experiences in Latin America and China, where the Marines’ concepts of “self” and “other” became firmly entrenched in terms of race and gender. Next, World War II provided the touchstone for the fullest development of Marine self-identification.
Even when the Marine Corps was forced to accept women, African-Americans and select minorities, Dr. Ulbrich argued the Corps’ senior leadership manipulated and limited opportunities for these groups. He also explained that racial factors permeated the culture of the Marine Corps because of the horrors of combat against Japan – yet another “other” race.
The paper had its genesis from Dr. Ulbrich’s first book – “Preparing for Victory: Thomas Holcomb and the Making of the U.S. Marine Corps, 1936-1943” – and from additional research for another project. His paper was one of several presentations sponsored by the International Commission on the History of the Second World War, with others coming from China, Japan, Germany, France, Belgium, Australia and the Netherlands.
“Attending this conference in China represented a great opportunity to interact with scholars from across the globe, to receive and give constructive criticism,” he said. “Every scholar was so open and interested in talking about history.”
RSU provided Dr. Ulbrich with travel support through an internal organized research grant approved by the campus’ Scholarly Activities Committee. Additional support was provided by the host institution, Shandong University, and the Provincial Government of Shandong.
During his visit, Dr. Ulbrich traveled to see the Great Wall of China, which he said was an amazing experience.
“The Great Wall is truly majestic and awe-inspiring. No words or photos can adequately describe it,” he said. “You have to see it and walk on it to believe it.”
Dr. Ulbrich teaches in RSU’s Military History program, which is one of the unique majors in the United States. He specializes in U.S. Marine Corps history and the history of the Second World War. He is co-author of the new textbook titled “Ways of War: American Military History from the Colonial Era to the 21st Century” that was adopted as required reading for all cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He joined the RSU faculty in 2013.