In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

-2REPUBLICAN CHINA: CHAOS, PROCESS, AND REVOLUTION* The assessments of Republican China studies that have appeared in the Newsletter over the past two years point to important gaps in our knowledge and understanding of this period, and provide suggestive leads to the areas of research that require closer attention in the future. The discussion has also been conspicuous, however, for its silence or vagueness over other important problems that have also been ignored in the past or problems that, though they have received some attention, call for more comprehensive treatment and/or revision. Unless some accommodation can be made for these problems, it is unl~kely that the models offered as guides to research in this discussion can transcend the one-sidedness for which the various participants criticize existing approaches to Republican China. One central concerniof the discussion is obviously to achieve greater efficiency in the utilization of the intellectual and financial resources of the field (as Kapp reminds us), which makes it necessary that priority be given to certain problems over others. While such a need may be granted, however, it is difficult to see from the arguments presented why one set of problems calls for more urgent resolution than others, and whether or not alternative formulations of the problems of Republican China are possible that can accommodate a broader range of problems. If, on the other hand, efficiency is as much a matter of concern as the initiators of this discussion would make it out to be, it is puzzling that the models they offer, which are designed to bring greater coherence to our perception of the problems of Republican China, should be so general and loosely structured that they yield no identifiable guidelines for determining the relevance or the relative significance of the problems they contain. It is once again necessary to ask if there are alternative ways of viewing Republican China that can achieve this goal more effectively. These are questions that in my opinion cannot be disposed of by further lists of research problems but require careful consideration of the purpose, perspective, and premises of the present discussion. Rather than add to the list of problems that have been suggested so far or merely elaborate upon them, as other respondents have done, I would like to focus my comments upon these questions. The formulations by Eastman and Kapp, who are the only ones to try to accomplish the original goals of the discussion by providing broad heuristic models, offer a means of getting at these questions. The premises of their formulations, it should be noted, are also shared by some of the other participants in the discussion, and reflect an interpretive trep.d of the last few years that, in a new guise, perpetuates assumptions that have long dominated the field. * This discussion addresses the problem of change in Republican China because of the central significance of that problem. I should note, however, that I do not believe the study of change to be an exclusive reason for studying Republican China. There are obviously broader human issues that are revealed in this period, as in any other period, of Chinese history. Second, although social and economic history are essential to the explanation of the process of change, they may not be sufficient to gain a full understanding of the period. It is important to remember, moreover, that it is possible to have trivial social and economic history, just as it is possible to have political, intellectual, and literary history, among others, that enriches our understanding of the period, of its problems, and of.the forces that motivated public and private behavior. The form of history, in other words, may be less important for answering certain significant questions than the conceptual formulation that guides historical inquiry. -4all of equal relevance in understanding change in Republican China. Indeed, the authors do not give us any idea, even in terms of their own formulations, why they specify certain phenomena as important and more deserving of attention than others that are not included at all. This is especially important since their particular choices state nothing but the obvious (as Kapp observes of Eastman's formulation and Schoppa, with even better...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5065
Print ISSN
1521-5385
Pages
pp. 2-11
Launched on MUSE
2021-05-25
Open Access
No
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