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Journal Article

FROM REVOLUTION TO MODERNIZATION: THE PARADIGMATIC TRANSITION IN CHINESE HISTORIOGRAPHY IN THE REFORM ERA

HUAIYIN LI
History and Theory
Vol. 49, No. 3 (October 2010), pp. 336-360
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40864497
Page Count: 25
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FROM REVOLUTION TO MODERNIZATION: THE PARADIGMATIC TRANSITION IN CHINESE HISTORIOGRAPHY IN THE REFORM ERA
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Abstract

Chinese historiography of modern China in the 1980s and 1990s underwent a paradigmatic transition: in place of the traditional revolutionary historiography that bases its analyses on Marxist methodologies and highlights rebellions and revolutions as the overarching themes in modern Chinese history, the emerging modernization paradigm builds its conceptual framework on borrowed modernization theory and foregrounds top-down, incremental reforms as the main force propelling China's evolution to modernity. This article scrutinizes the origins of the new paradigm in the context of a burgeoning modernization discourse in reform-era China. It further examines the fundamental divides between the two types of historiography in their respective constructions of master narratives and their different approaches to representing historical events in modern China. Behind the prevalence of the modernization paradigm in Chinese historiography is Chinese historians' unchanged commitment to serving present political needs by interpreting the past.

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