China and Inner Asia
Our professional identities continue to be fundamentally shaped by a periodization schematic based on political markers — pre-1911, Republican-era, Mao-era, post-Mao era, twentieth century, and so forth. However, such markers are often arbitrary and irrelevant when it comes to a wide variety of long-term, secular, and global historical phenomena. In thinking about globalization, we in the China studies field need not only insist that China be written in as an integral part of modern world history, but also that how we think about China take secular global forces into fuller account.
This roundtable brings together scholars working on topics across the modern period (itself a problematic term) from several academic disciplines for the purpose of thinking creatively about: 1) the nature of our own research agendas within the broader field; 2) how the organizational categories and apparatuses that structure the field shape how we think; and 3) alternate ways the field could be structured. The impetus for the roundtable is an ongoing conversation between people deeply involved in two overlapping scholarly societies—the Historical Society for Twentieth Century China (HSTCC), and the PRC History Group—and agreement between them that it will be fruitful to question our self-conceptualizations in light of the other, to work together against temporal balkanization, and to discuss subject matter that does not receive enough attention in an era of hyper-academic specialization.
Ralph Litzinger focuses on what the Anthropocene means for the category of post-socialism and how we think “China” in relation to not just the global, but the planetary. Relatedly, Ruth Rogasky addresses the different environmental impact of regimes of labor organization and technology from the Qing to the present. Timothy Weston interrogates “China” as a mediated entity, focusing on the journalistic press and the intertwinement of Chinese and Western representations. Fabio Lanza reexamines the political chronology of China by placing it within the global politics of the long (or short) twentieth century. Eileen Chow looks at time-travel, both as allegory for China’s sense of itself and as a narrative structure in popular culture that gets banned for its suspect rewriting of history.