China and Inner Asia
This roundtable celebrates Parks Coble’s important scholarly contributions to research in Chinese business, political, and social history during the Republican period and simultaneously explores the past, current, and future trajectories of these sub-fields. Coble’s first book on the Shanghai capitalists and their complex relationship with the Nationalist government was pathbreaking. His studies on Japanese-Chinese interactions are required reading for any historian interested in issues related to war, collaboration, political factionalism, and economic survival.
The five participants represent three generations of scholars who have engaged with and benefited from different strands of Coble’s scholarship. Sherman Cochran represents the group of historians, affiliated with the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, who revived the field of business history when Chinese archives began to open in the late 1980s. Cochran will comment on Coble’s The Shanghai Capitalists and its influence on studies exploring businesses, entrepreneurs, and industries in Shanghai and the Yangzi delta. Stephen McKinnon, an expert on the Sino-Japanese war, will speak to Coble’s engagement with Sino-Japanese relations during the Nanjing decade and World War II as argued in Facing Japan and China’s War Reporters.
Brett Sheehan and Elisabeth Köll represent the generation of business historians who, following Coble’s work, focused on company- and industry-oriented analyses in geographies outside of Shanghai. Sheehan will comment on the importance of understanding the intersection of financial and political networks in Republican history, while Köll will discuss the value of research that explores the nature of the Chinese firm in terms of ownership and management.
Ghassan Moazzin represents the current generation of exciting young scholars who are moving to place Chinese business history into a global context. Moazzin will discuss the role of foreign banks from the Qing empire through the Republic and recent revisionist approaches to China's business and economic development in the context of Coble’s and other business historians’ work.
We envision a lively debate with the audience, especially considering the fact that business history research is increasingly shifting from the Republican era to the 1950s and the early PRC. This international panel is diverse with regard to academic rank, institutional affiliation, and gender.