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Western English Language Scholarship on China since 1945: Trends and Evaluation

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This article analyses post-World War II Western English language scholarship about China’s history and present. It focuses on the ways this scholarship has changed over the period, including discussion of how the balance between comparative and area studies has changed towards the latter, but also gives some space to works by two great sinologists, Joseph Needham and John K. Fairbank. It offers a periodization of the scholarship, with three periods separated by boundaries in the late 1960s and late 1980s and early 1990s. It argues that factors affecting scholarly images of China’s present and very recent past have included not only the realities of China but also changing power relations between the West and China. Contemporary China appears to have advanced more than English language scholarship about it would suggest.

Keywords: Chinese history; English language scholarship; contemporary China; discipline and area studies; images

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Griffith University

Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • Political Crossroads is a bi-annual, international, refereed journal which, since 1990, publishes critical and empirical scholarship in political science and international relations. Its areas of focus include global security, terrorism, national identity, migration and citizenship, and the politics of resources and trade.

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