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January 06, 2009

Winter 2009 Course - History 231/669: "Modern Chinese History in Social Science Perspective"

Modern Chinese History in Social Science Perspective: Big Structures, Large Processes, Huge Comparisons, 1700-2000

These courses are an attempt to summarize what we know about modern China and modern Chinese history from a social science perspective. The current understanding of human history and social theory is based largely on Western experience or on non-Western experience seen through a Western lens. The above courses offer alternative perspectives derived from Chinese experience during the last three centuries. We will review a number of core subjects, including community, ethnicity, family, freedom, gender, life, power, property, religion, rights, rules, sexuality, society, and states, to compare how Chinese historic behavior and intellectual construction of these analytic categories and abstract subjects differed from Western behavior and understanding. We will also trace the persistence of these differences to Chinese behavior and thinking today.

The analytic focus will be on three common criteria used in the West to categorize contemporary societies - class, race, and gender - as well as two other important historical categories and abstractions: public and private, and state and society: public and private because the expansion of both civic and private spheres underlie our Western understanding of human values and behavior; and state and society because state documents and narratives constitute the majority of our information about China, and because Confucian and Communist categories and abstractions provide almost all the alternative framing we have for Chinese history beyond Western comparisons.

For each subject, I present in History 231 weekly Monday lectures that incorporate recent research on these issues – in some cases ongoing research - followed in History 231 and History 669 by separate weekly Wednesday class discussions at the undergraduate and graduate level of relevant archival, ethnographic, and statistical studies as well as literary and cinematic representations. We begin with a discussion of the Chinese state and then turn in succession to class, ethnicity, and gender and end with a discussion of public and private life. While we do not emphasize the temporal narratives of late imperial, early modern, and contemporary China since that is the purview of other UM classes, we of course also discuss change over time as China progresses from a largely internal imperial history to the shared stories of imperialism and semi colonialism, communism and collectivization, and reform and globalization.

Organizational Meeting January 7
Imperial and Communist State January 12, 14
Qing, Republican, and Communist Historical Processes January 21 (map quiz)
Examination System January 26, 28
Occupation and Education February 2, 4
Property and Land February 9, 11
Ethnic Boundaries February 16, 18
Ethnic Governance March 2, 4
Family and Community March 9 11
Gender and Life Course March 16, 18
Affect and Sexuality March 23, 25
Population Processes: Marriage, Fertility, and Mortality March 29, April 1
Religion April 6, 8
Freedom and Autonomy April 13, 15

Posted by zzhu at January 6, 2009 01:05 PM