Oxford bibliographies online: Chinese studies

New for eresources@cambridge: Oxford bibliographies online in Chinese studies.

Oxford Bibliographies in Chinese Studies is a multi- and inter-disciplinary enterprise covering the study of China across all disciplines. It developed mainly from two sources. First, a long-standing tradition of Sinology, still strong in Europe, has used philological and literary tools to study mainly the humanities and pre-modern China. Second, from the Second World War, an “area studies” approach – initially closely linked to US foreign policy needs and remaining predominant in the US, Canada and Australia – has focused on modern China using interdisciplinary (mainly social science) methods. More recently, China’s rapid growth has led to the rapid expansion of the field, while scholars originally from the PRC have led a trend to identify primarily with a discipline rather than an area.

Many China scholars still feel, however, that scholarship on China has had too little influence on the disciplines. The core ideas of most social sciences originate mainly from Western experience and have only sporadically taken China into account. This, however, is changing. For example, Kenneth Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence has made it difficult to discuss early modern economic development without taking account of China.

Studies of China within China are, of course, studies of the self rather than the other. Concepts originating with Chinese scholars have long been central to Western understandings of many issues, such as the emergence of Chinese nationalism. From the 1950s to the 1970s, however, scholarship in China was so dominated by Marxist dogma that its methods and conclusions were of limited interest to scholars elsewhere. This situation has changed dramatically since the 1980s: whole disciplines such as sociology have re-emerged, and modern social science methods have been introduced, often by scholars returning to China after study in the West. The volume of production has increased massively. Although this varies in quality even more than in the West, the best work, especially in disciplines like economics and sociology, is now at the forefront of research.

Oxford Bibliographies in Chinese Studies provides an authoritative guide to the key works across the whole field, pointing researchers and practitioners at all levels to the most important scholarship in European languages as well as in Chinese (and Japanese), and giving scholars working in other fields easier access to scholarship on China. The subjects covered in the initial launch provide broad guidance to major areas of study, while later additions focus more specifically on key issues or topics of debate.

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