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Themes and Issues in Chinese History, 1840-1949

Themes and Issues in Chinese History, 1840-1949

Programme: M. Phil
Course No: EA 622
Semester: Monsoon
Credits: Three
Course Teacher: D. Varaprasad Sekhar

Course Statement

This course provides a broad framework of analysis of some of the major themes, issues and events in the history of China since 1840 to 1949 rather than looking at chronologically. Besides looking at various debates on, and the approaches to history, it delineates the unfolding of various historical events and their impact on the Chinese society. The course assumes that various sections of the Chinese society, particularly leaders, peasants, workers, intellectuals and women have responded to the events emanating from both internal and external developments in a unique way and shaped the social, political, economic, and cultural components of their society.

The course is divided into five sections. The first section deals with some of the basic aspects of history such as what is history and how do the Chinese view history. The next three consider three dimensions of Chinese history. And, the last section critically looks at China on the eve of the PRC establishment and evaluates some of the changes and continuities.

Course Requirements

The students are required to do three assignments- seminar, book review and research essay- from three sections other than the first and the last. Seminar (10 marks) has to be presented as and when those sections are taught. Book review (10 marks) has to be submitted by the end of September 2006. And, the research essay (20 marks) will have to be submitted by 15th November. The students will be marked ((10) for their participation in the class. Besides these, there will be an end semester exam in the last week of November (50 marks).



Section I - Introduction (Three Weeks)

  1. General Approaches to the study of history
  2. Approaches to Chinese history, and Chinese Historiography
  3. Background - China before, and on the eve of 1840

Section II- Political Developments (Three Weeks)

  1. Qing rule since 1840-Imperial traditions, political institutions and reform and succession struggles
  2. Imperialism-Opium wars, Treaty port system, Open door policy and Chinese approach to imperialism
  3. China since 1911-May 4th movement, Warlordism, Communist movement, KMT and its ideology, China and the Second World War and Civil war

Section III - Economic Growth (Three Weeks)

  1. Agriculture
  2. Industrial development
  3. Foreign economic relations & Science and technology

Section IV - Society and Culture (Three Weeks)

  1. Social structure & Family
  2. Popular movements & religion
  3. Popular culture & Literature

Section V - Overview (One Week)

  1. China on the eve of the establishment of PRC
  2. Changes and Continuities


SECTION I. Introduction

Week (i) General approaches to the study of history

  1. Carr, E. H., What is History (Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1973).
  2. Canadine, David, ed., What is History Now? (London: Palgrave, 2002). Read chapters 1& 9.
  3. Finberg, H. P. R., Approaches to History: A Symposium (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1962).
  4. Iggers, Georg G., Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge 
    (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan Press, 1997).

Week (ii) Approaches to Chinese history, and Chinese historiography

  1. Gardner, Charles S., Chinese Traditional Historiography (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1961).
  2. Cohen, Paul A., China Unbound: Evolving Perspectives on the Chinese Past (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003). 
    Read introduction and chapter 7.
  3. Huang, Philip C. C., “Theory and the Study of Chinese History: Four Traps and A Question”, Modern China, vol. 24, no.2, 
    April 1998, pp. 183-208.
  4. Dirlik, Arif. “Reversals, Ironies, Hegemonies: Notes on the Contemporary Historiography of Modern China”, 
    Modern China, vol.22 no.3, July 1996, 243-284.
  5. Wang, Xuedian, “Historiography in China in the Last Fifty Years”, Social Sciences in China, vol. 25, no. 3, 
    Autumn 2004, pp. 66-81.

Week (iii)  Background - China before, and on the eve of 1840

  1. Shouyi, Bai, ed., An Outline History of China (Beijing: Foreign Language Press, 1982).
    de Ven, Hans Van, “Recent Studies of Modern Chinese History”, Modern Asian Studies, Vol. 30, No. 2, 1996. 
    Read pp. 225-241.
  2. Cranmer-Byng, John. “The Chinese View of Their Place in the World: An Historical  Perspective”, China Quarterly, 
    No. 53, January-March 1973, 67-79.
  3. Studwell, Joe, The China Dream: The Quest for the Last Great Untapped Market in Earth (New York: Grove Press, 
    2002. See particularly chapter one.

SECTION II. Political Developments

Week (iv) Qing rule since 1840-Imperial traditions, political institutions and reform, and succession struggles

  1. Fairbank, J.K., “Confucian Pattern”, Schurmann, Franz & Schell, Orville, China Readings, Vol. I, Imperial China, 
    (Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1968), pp. 47-60.
  2. Dawson, Raymond, The Chinese Experience (London: Phoenix Press, 2000). Read Chapters one and two.
  3. Hsu, Immanuel C. Y., The Rise of Modern China (London: Oxford University Press, 1975). Read pp.45-59 
    and chapters 15 and 17.
  4. Schurmann, Franz & Schell, Orville, China Readings, Vol. I, Imperial China, (Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1968).

Week (v) Imperialism-Opium wars, Treaty port system, Open door policy, Chinese approach to imperialism

  1. Sheng, Hu, Imperialism and Chinese Politics (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1985).
  2. Chung, Tan, China and Brave New World (Bombay: Allied Publishers, 1978).
  3. Hsu, Immanuel C. Y., The Rise of Modern China (London: Oxford University Press, 1975). Chapters 7-9 and 13 -14.

Week (vi) China since 1911-May 4th movement, Warlordism, Communist movement, KMT and 
its ideology, China at war, Civil war

  1. Bianco, Lucien, Origins of the Chinese Revolution 1915-1949 (California: Stanford University Press, 1971).
  2. Read Sections III and IV in Spence, Jonathan D., Search for Modern China (New York: Norton & company, 1994).
  3. Snow, Edgar, Red Star Over China (New York: Grove, 1971).

SECTION III. Economic Growth

Week (vii) Agriculture

  1. Perkins, Dwight H., Agricultural Development in China, 1368-1968 (Chicago: Aldine, 1969).
  2. Tawney, R.H., Land and Labour in China (New York, 1964).
  3. Richardson, Philip, Economic Change in China c. 1800-1950 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). 
    See Chapter on agriculture.
  4. Buck, S. Pearl, The Good Earth (New York: Pocket Books, 1994).
    Week (viii) Industrial development
  5. Huang, Philip, “The Paradigmatic Crisis in Chinese Studies: Paradoxes in Social and Economic History”, 
    Modern China, Vol. 17, No.3, 1991, pp.299-341.
  6. Feuerwerker, Albert, “China’s Nineteenth Century Industrialization: The case of the Hanyechang Coal and 
    Iron Company Ltd”, in Cowan C. D., The Economic 
    Development of China and Japan: Studios in Economic History and Political Economy (Delhi: Khosla Publishing 
    House, 1964), pp.79-110.
  7. Chesneaux, Jean, “The Chinese Labour Force in the First Part of the Twentieth Century”, in Cowan,  C. D., 
    The Economic Development of China and Japan: Studios in Economic History and Political Economy 
    (Delhi: Khosla Publishing House, 1964), pp.111-127.

Week (ix) Foreign economic relations & Science and technology

  1. Fairbank, J. K., Trade and Diplomacy on the Chinese Coast: The Opening of the Treaty Ports, Vols. 2, 
    (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1954).
  2. Feuerwerker, Albert, “Economic Trends in the Late Ch’ing Empire, 1870-1911” in The Cambridge 
    History of China, (CHC) Vol. 11, Part 2, Read particularly pp. 40-58.
  3. Orleons, Leo A., Science in Contemporary China (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1980). 
    See particularly chapter by Nathan Sivin.
  4. Read chapter 10 in CHC Vol. 10, Part 1, pp. 491-542.

SECTION IV. Society and Culture

Week (x) Social structure & Family

  1. Fairbank, J.K., “Social Structure”, in Schurmann, Franz & Schell, Orville, China Readings, Vol. I, 
    Imperial China, (Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1968), pp. 33-47.
  2. Ebrey, Patricia, “Introduction: Family Life in Late Traditional China”, Modern China, Vol. 10, No.4, 1984, pp. 379-385.
  3. Bastid-Bruguire, Marrianne, “Currents of Social Change”, in CHC Vol. 11, Part 2, pp. 53-602.
  4. Stockman, Norman, Understanding Chinese Society (London: Polity Press, 2000). Read pp. 94-102. 

Week (xi) Popular movements & religion

  1. Read chapter 10 in Fairbank, J. K., China: A New History (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997).
  2. Read chapter 8 in Spence, Jonathan D., Search for Modern China (New York: Norton & company, 1994).
  3. Teiser, Stephen, F., “Popular Religion” in The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 54, No. 2, 1995, pp. 378-395.
  4. Yang, C.K. “Religion and Political Rebellion”, in Schurmann, Franz & Schell, Orville, China Readings, 
    Vol. I, Imperial China, (Hammondsworth: Penguin, 1968), pp. 157-194.

Week (xii) Popular culture & Literature

  1. Latourette, Kenneth Scott, The Development of China (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1946), 
    Read chapter 4 particularly pp. 106-138.
  2. Selected Stories of Lu Hsun (Xun), Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1978. A Madman’s Diary, 
    Strom in A Tea Cup and Village Opera.
  3. Lee, Leo Ou-Fan, “Literary Trends: The Quest for Modernity 1895-1927”, CHC Vol. 12, Part-1, pp. 452-504.
  4. Lee, Leo Ou-Fan, “Literary Trends: The Road to Revolution 1927-1949”, CHC Vol. 13, Part-2, pp. 421-491.
  5. Deshpande, G.P., “Chinese Literature: An Introductory Essay”, China Report, Vo. 42, No. 1, 2006, pp. 1-24.

SECTION V. Overview

Week (xiii) China on the eve of the establishment of PRC: Changes and Continuities

  1. First Four Chapters in Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China: A History of the People’s Republic (New York: The Free Press, 1977).
  2. First Chapter in Marc Blecher, China Against the Tides: Restructuring through Revolution, Radicalism and 
    Reform (London: Pinter, 1997).
  3. Chung, Tan, “Chinese Civilization: Resilience and Challenges”, China Report, Vol. 41, No. 2, 2005, pp. 115-129.
  4. Levenson, Joseph R., Confucian China and its Modern Fate: The Problem of Intellectual Continuity 
    (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1958).
  5. Rankin, Mary B., Fairbank, J.K. and Feuerwerker, Albert, “Introduction: Perspectives on Modern China’s History”, 
    CHC Vol. 13, Part-2, pp. 1-73.

A warm welcome to the modified and updated website of the Centre for East Asian Studies. The East Asian region has been at the forefront of several path-breaking changes since 1970s beginning with the redefining the development architecture with its State-led development model besides emerging as a major region in the global politics and a key hub of the sophisticated technologies. The Centre is one of the thirteen Centres of the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi that provides a holistic understanding of the region.

Initially, established as a Centre for Chinese and Japanese Studies, it subsequently grew to include Korean Studies as well. At present there are eight faculty members in the Centre. Several distinguished faculty who have now retired include the late Prof. Gargi Dutt, Prof. P.A.N. Murthy, Prof. G.P. Deshpande, Dr. Nranarayan Das, Prof. R.R. Krishnan and Prof. K.V. Kesavan. Besides, Dr. Madhu Bhalla served at the Centre in Chinese Studies Programme during 1994-2006. In addition, Ms. Kamlesh Jain and Dr. M. M. Kunju served the Centre as the Documentation Officers in Chinese and Japanese Studies respectively.

The academic curriculum covers both modern and contemporary facets of East Asia as each scholar specializes in an area of his/her interest in the region. The integrated course involves two semesters of classes at the M. Phil programme and a dissertation for the M. Phil and a thesis for Ph. D programme respectively. The central objective is to impart an interdisciplinary knowledge and understanding of history, foreign policy, government and politics, society and culture and political economy of the respective areas. Students can explore new and emerging themes such as East Asian regionalism, the evolving East Asian Community, the rise of China, resurgence of Japan and the prospects for reunification of the Korean peninsula. Additionally, the Centre lays great emphasis on the building of language skills. The background of scholars includes mostly from the social science disciplines; History, Political Science, Economics, Sociology, International Relations and language.

Several students of the centre have been recipients of prestigious research fellowships awarded by Japan Foundation, Mombusho (Ministry of Education, Government of Japan), Saburo Okita Memorial Fellowship, Nippon Foundation, Korea Foundation, Nehru Memorial Fellowship, and Fellowship from the Chinese and Taiwanese Governments. Besides, students from Japan receive fellowship from the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.