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Change and continuity in the recent 30 years of research on modern Chinese history: Some unsystematic reflective thoughts

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Research on modern Chinese history in the past 30 years can be equally divided into two parts, which are different in terms of attended issues, observed objects, and investigated topics, and also employ different perspectives to explore “problems,” utilize different materials, and resort to different formats for narration. To understand this “thirty-year” (post-1978) historiography, it is necessary to go back to the “seventeen-year” (1949–1966) research before the Cultural Revolution and examine and analyze these studies for trends of continuity and fracture in the accumulation of scholarship. On the other hand, future research should be cautious about even an unconscious tendency of self-isolation, keep an open mind, and fully consider the numerous foreign elements “present in China” in the modern period, their consequences, and impact.


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