Discovering History in China, by Cohen, Paul A.
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- ISBN: 9780231151931 | 0231151934
- Cover: Paperback
- Copyright: 4/15/2010
Since its original publication, Paul A. Cohen's Discovering History in Chinahas occupied a singular place in American China scholarship. Translated into three East Asian languages, the volume has become essential to the study of China from the early nineteenth century to the present. Cohen critiques the work of leading postwar scholars and adamantly opposes reading China through the lens of Western history. More specifically, he counters the strong ethnocentric bias pervading three major conceptual frameworks of American scholarship from the 1950s and 1960s: the impact-response, modernization, and imperialism approaches. In place of these, Cohen favors a "China-centered" approach by which historians strive to understand Chinese history on its own terms, paying close attention to Chinese historical trajectories and Chinese perceptions of their own problems, rather than through a set of expectations derived from Western history.In a new introduction, Cohen traces the evolution of his fifty-year career as a historian of China. He also discusses new major developments in the field, some of which challenge the scope of a narrowly conceived China-centered approach. They enable more balanced comparisons between China and the West and recast the Chinese and their history in more human, less exotic terms, while nonetheless still powerfully affirming the central thrust of Cohen's celebrated work.