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History, Culture, and Politics: On Historical Formation and Identity Dilemmas of “China”

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image of Frontiers of History in China

This lecture is concerned with some historical issues of “China,” “territory,” “culture” and “identity” that are placed against the background of politics, culture and scholarship in contemporary China. I want to draw attention to the question of how historians understand and interpret “China.” It addresses the following questions. First, where did the idea of “China” come from? and how did it become a topic of scholarly research? What kind of dilemmas does “China” confront in its current condition and historical interpretation? Second, how do various new historical theories and methods in international academic circles enrich our understanding of “China”? Third, how does China’s history and reality challenge the theories of “empire” and “nation-state”? Fourth, is it possible to write “East Asian history”? Does “national history” prove still effective in describing China or East Asia?


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