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The Australian National University

China Time

Bei Hai Park, Beijing (1985) Photo: Lois Conner

Bei Hai Park, Beijing (1985)
Photograph by Lois Conner

This thematic grouping concentrates on issues related to Chinese history since the mid-Qing era (1750s), China's last 'prosperous age' (shengshi 盛世). It is also concerned with issues related to historical memory, revivals, changing national and local identities, heritage, reform and revolution. In disciplinary terms this theme links to history, political science, heritage studies, cultural studies and critical inquiry.

In recent decades the commerce in ideas and scholastic approaches has brought about new considerations of the Ming and Qing eras (fourteenth-twentieth centuries), Republican China (1910s-), and the People's Republic (1949 onwards). Empirical work on all of these areas is of crucial importance to trans-historical inquiries that consider issues, ideas and events in the context of dynastic, republican and socialist China. The study of the past is used in the articulation of present policies and ideas as well as in debates about future possibilities.

At a time when 'identity politics' in the Chinese world is playing a greater role, with historical eras open to investigation and manipulation in the contemporary context, research into the history of 'China Proper' (Zhong Yuan 中原), the Qing empire, the Republic and the People's Republic, conflicting narratives of Chinese modernity, and issues of reform and revolution are also of relevance to those working in other areas of Chinese Studies.

The histories of various regional and community identities and languages are being accorded the significance they deserve as vital elements of the Sinophone world. As stories that have shaped Chinese culture, they should not be viewed as merely adorning a mainstream contemporary Han Chineseness that has grown and been codified by a modern nation-state finding its way through the turmoil of the last century and a half. These "others" - be they internal others today, or part of the inter-connected history of a broader Chinese civilization in the past - have autochthonous value and richness.

Updated:  4 March 2013/Responsible Officer:  Director, China in the World /Page Contact:  China in the World