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"Weak and small peoples" in a "europeanizing world": World history textbooks and chinese intellectuals' perspectives on global modernity

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Chapter Summary

During the late Qing and Republican periods, Chinese intellectuals sought to control the world, as they always had, by writing about it. Textbooks were one of the main sites of this textual production. Leading modern intellectuals and a host of newly professionalized editors working for Shanghai’s private publishing companies wrote world history textbooks that mapped out the modern world for students, charted trajectories of change, and established those intellectuals as authoritative arbiters of knowledge about global modernity. This chapter explores how they configured the world, analyzes why they constituted it as they did, and unpacks some of the social and political implications of their writings. It focuses on close readings of secondary-level Western history (xiyangshi), Eastern history (dongyashi), and world history (shijieshi) textbooks published from the 1910s up to the start of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937.

Keywords: Chinese intellectuals; Eastern history textbooks; global modernity; late Qing; Sino-Japanese War; textual production; Western history textbooks; world history textbooks



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