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The State of China Studies: A Moving Target


Development from classical sinology, to area studies, to incorporation in ... New sinology and cultural studies: Building on traditional knowledge in order to ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The State of China Studies: A Moving Target

The State of China Studies A Moving Target
  • Theoretical and empirical developments and

Overview of the lecture
  • Major changes in the field (institutional and
    academic, disciplinary, access to China, domestic
    changes in China, political environment)
  • Developments in different disciplines
  • New topics and research frontiers
  • Important resources (journals, web sites etc)

China studies as a field The framework
  • Development from classical sinology, to area
    studies, to incorporation in different
    disciplines, with the result that China studies
    has become more mainstream in Western academia
  • Research on China by Western scholars is
    facilitated through better opportunities to study
    and do fieldwork in China (better access to data)
    and through co-operation with Chinese scholars
    and institutions
  • Research in China is less politicised today
    (although some topics are sensitive and
    difficult) and more embedded in the international
    academic community

China studies and politics
  • China studies has never existed in an abstract,
    value-free domain
  • Different environments, different generation of
    scholars Cold War, Maoism, reform period,
    post-1989 period
  • Traditional China scholars love for the Chinese
    past and a mission to save China from
    disintegration into modernity (Neo-Confucian
    scholars and work abroad)
  • Some contemporary social scientists in the West
    see China as a problem to be solved
  • Relationship between scholars, media,
    policy-makers, businessmen et al
  • Chinas growing strategic and economic importance
    means that research in these areas are in high
  • Chinese politics and research Peasant issue (san
    nong wenti), harmonious society (hexie shehui) etc

Keeping up with the field?
  • Growth in journals and books on China since 1980s
  • Journals within the disciplines increasingly have
    articles on China
  • Growth in good academic works published in China
    since 1990s
  • Growth and increasing reliability and
    transparency of government publications,
    statistics, laws and regulations etc
  • The internet as an important source
  • Larger academic community

Institutional and academic framework in the West
  • Sinological tradition still strong in Europe but
    younger generation focus more on contemporary
    China, building up of China or Asia centres
  • European Association of Chinese Studies,
    bi-annual conference in Lund 6-10 August 2008
  • New sinology and cultural studies Building on
    traditional knowledge in order to study modern
    cultural developments (memory-making,
    representation, heritage studies, film studies,
    popular culture, consumer culture etc)

Challenges to China studies
  • Area vs discipline (looks different in different
    disciplines, conflict diminished over time)
  • Challenges of globalization (Greater China,
    Cultural China, migration studies, diaspora
    studies, translocal studies, impact of Chinese
    culture abroad etc)

Pre-1949 situation
  • Establishment of Chinese universities early 20th
  • Birth of sociological and anthropological studies
    in China in 1930s
  • Western scholars active in China
  • First generation of Chinese social scientists
  • Important rural studies in 1920s and 1930s

1949-1979 Limited access for Western scholars
and bleak period for Chinese social scientists
  • Many disciplines encountered problems in China,
    including sociology, anthropology, and law,
    politicisation of universities and scholarship
  • Anti-rightist campaign, campaign against
    intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution
  • Closure of universities
  • Western scholars banned from China led to turn to
    text based research and to emigré research in
    Hong Kong
  • Limited access for foreigners, guided tours to
    model farms, villages etc (Jan Myrdal on Liu Lin
    village in Shaanxi in early 1960s)
  • Research and politics Friends of China, maoists,
    and anti-communists
  • Traditional sinology a safe haven from the
    politics of the day

The Opening Up of China after 1979 Growth in
China Studies
  • Re-opening of Chinese universities, old teachers
    back, recruitment of new students, re-opening of
    faculties and re-emergence of sociology and law
  • Chinese students and scholars going abroad
  • Study and fieldwork opportunities in China for
    Western students and scholars
  • Growth in publications in China and abroad

Conceptual and theoretical contributions?
  • Different paradigms shaped different periods of
    China research (communism studies, modernization
    theories, impact-response paradigm, transition
    studies etc)
  • China is a fertile and challenging testing ground
    for the social sciences (possibilities to test,
    confirm, and contradict existing theories)
  • Chinas political and economic development
    challenge many preconceived ideas about the
    relationship between economic development and
  • Debates on civil society, governance, rightful
    resistance, selective adaptation etc

Political science
  • State-society relations From leadership studies,
    to institutions, to processes , including
    different groups (migrants, women, entrepreneurs
    et al)
  • Political leadership and elite studies
    (Zhongnanhai watching), Cheng Li, Bo Zhiyue,
    Joseph Fewsmith, China Leadership Monitor etc
  • Provincial leadership, local leadership and
    economic development (Vivienne Shue, Jean Oi, et
  • Political institutions such as National Peoples
    Congress, village elections etc (Kevin OBrien,
    Li Liangjiang,Guo Zhenglin, Cai Dingjian et al)
  • Democracy movements, political participation,
    grassroot democracy, civil society (in aftermath
    of 1989), Shi Tianjin
  • Civil society, NGOs, internet etc (Yang Guobin)
  • Studies on corruption (Lu Xiaobo, Yan Sun,
    Melanie Manion)
  • Social unrest, rightful resistance, weiquan
    yundong etc (Scott Tanner, Kevin OBrien),

  • Economists hostile to area studies
  • Focus on the theoretical and empirical issues
    raised by Chinas economic transition
  • From socialist planned economy to market economy
    Comparisons with developments in former communist
    countries, transition studies
  • Explaining Chinas economic success
  • Rural reforms Decollectivization, village and
    township enterprises (TVEs), local state and
    economic growth, regional differences, poverty
  • Urban reforms Reform of state-owned enterprises
  • Private entrepreneurs Different models such as
    the Wenzhou model
  • China and the international economy SEZ, WTO
  • Institutional reforms Bank reforms etc
  • New issues rural-urban gap, inequality, rural
    issues under Hu-Wen leadership, welfare issues
  • Hot topics Innovation studies, China-India
  • Leading scholars Peter Nolan, Barry Naughton,
    Carl Riskin

Sociology and anthropology
  • How reforms affect different groups of people
    Migrants, women, laid-off workers, minorities et
  • Inequality and discrimination Migrant studies
  • Anthropological work in the countryside family,
    clans, religion
  • New anthropological work urban studies, cultural
    studies,effects of globalization
  • Interesting anthropologists Myron Cohen, James
    and Rubie Watson, Stephan Feuchtwang, Dru
    Gladney, Louisa Schein, Helen Siu, Yan Yunxiang,
    Mayfair Yang, Xin Liu

International relations and security studies
  • More in the US than in Europe for strategic
  • Chinas relations with other Asian countries and
    increasing focus on Chinas role and expansion in
    Africa and Latin America
  • China and the UN (security council, peace-keeping
    forces, human rights issues etc)
  • New topic China as a soft power

Legal studies
  • Small field in the 1960s and 1970s (legal system
    attacked and demolished)
  • Building up of legal system led to studies of law
    making and law-in-the-books in 1980s (Jerome
    Cohen, Stanley Lubman)
  • Rule by law vs rule of law debate (Randall
  • Since late 1990s, more focus on law-in-action and
    contributions by sociologists, political
    scientists et al

Media studies
  • Different types of media (print media,
    television, internet)
  • Conditions for media production Journalism as a
    profession, censorship et
  • Commercialisation of the media in an
    authoritarian system
  • Internet and political change Public opinion etc
  • China Media Centre at University of Westminster
  • Scholars Hugo de Burgh, Zhao Yuezhi, Keane,
    Hong, Hemeruk et al)

Interdiciplinary studies and new areas
  • Gender studies women in the Chinese revolution,
    family and gender roles, women on the labour
    market, women and political participation, women
    as migrants etc
  • Growing field in China Activists and researchers
  • Scholars in the West Elizabeth Croll, Tamara
    Jacka et al
  • Urban studies

Journals on China
  • The China Quarterly (1960-)
  • Modern China (1975-)
  • China Journal (1979-) formerly Australian Journal
    of Chinese Affairs
  • China Information (1986-)
  • Journal of Contemporary China (1992-)
  • China Perspectives (1994-)
  • China Review International (1999-)
  • China An International Journal (2003-)

Translations of Chinese documents and articles
M.E. Sharpe journals
  • The Chinese Economy
  • Chinese Education and Society
  • Chinese Law and Government
  • Chinese Sociology and Anthropology
  • Chinese Studies in History
  • Chinese Contemporary Thought

  • China Daily
  • Peoples Daily
  • South China Morning Post
  • New York Times
  • Washington Post
  • Nanfang zhoumo

Internet resources
  • China Elections
  • http//
  • China Digital Times
  • http//
  • China Leadership Monitor
  • http//
  • China Brief
  • http/
  • Congressional-Executive Commission on China
  • http//
  • Book list