Robert Oxnam, China Scholar Beset by Multiple Personalities, Dies at 81 – Generic English

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Mr. Bouton said that he had not been aware of the full extent of Dr. Oxnam’s alcoholism and that he had had inklings about his behavioral problems. He said that it was remarkable that Dr. Oxnam had been able to work through them.

But in 1992, Dr. Oxnam told the society’s board that he was going to resign.

“The Bob part of me was touched that they pressured me to reconsider,” he wrote in his book. But he left.

In addition to his wife, whom he married in 1993 and who was president of the Asia Society from 2004 to 2012, his survivors include his daughter, Deborah Betsch, and his son, Geoff Oxnam, both from his marriage to Barbara Foehl, which ended in divorce in 1993, and four grandchildren.

After leaving the Asia Society, Dr. Oxnam hosted and wrote a series about China for “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour” on PBS in 1993; taught a graduate seminar on U.S.-Asia relations at Beijing University from 2003 to 2004 (where his Bobby personality lectured in Chinese), and advised the Bessemer Trust, a wealth management firm.

He also wrote “Ming: A Novel of Seventeenth-Century China” (1995) and turned to art, crafting found wood into sculptures inspired by Chinese philosophy and taking photographs of glacial rocks.

“In Chinese tradition, the term ‘qi’ has many meanings, but for me, it means an invisible but palpable source of creative energy,” Dr. Oxnam told Hamptons Art Hub, an online publication, in 2018. He added, “I have suffered from dissociation all my life, but somehow the linkage between ‘qi’ and art has given me focus and hope.”

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