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Joseph Esherick – Rethinking the Chinese Revolution

April 15 @ 12:15 pm 1:30 pm

Speaker: Joseph Esherick, Professor Emeritus of History, University of California, San Diego

Moderator: Elizabeth Perry, Henry Rosovsky Professor of Government, Harvard University; Director, Harvard-Yenching Institute.

Was the Chinese Revolution inevitable? In “Rethinking the Chinese Revolution,” Esherick will discuss his evolving assessment of modern Chinese history from his early essay, “Harvard on China,” through his “Ten Theses on the Chinese Revolution.” Fundamental to this evolution has been wrestling with the determinism he learned as a social historian of the 1960s to a greater (but still uneasy) embrace of the contingency of history that one sees in Accidental Holy Land.

Joseph W. Esherick received his B.A. from Harvard in 1964 and his PhD from Berkeley in 1971.  His scholarship has focused on the last years of the Qing dynasty and the social and political transformation of modern China.  His dissertation and first monograph, Reform and Revolution in China: the 1911 Revolution in Hunan and Hubei explored the social background of China’s republican revolution.  His book on The Origins of the Boxer Uprising won the John K. Fairbank Prize of the American Historical Association and the Joseph R. Levenson Prize of the Association for Asian Studies.  Ancestral Leaves explored the tumultuous history of nineteenth and twentieth-century China through the lives of successive generations of one family. His new monograph, Accidental Holy Land: The Communist Revolution in Northwest China, is a study of the founding of the Shaan-Gan-Ning border region of northwest China.  In edited volumes, Esherick has analyzed Chinese local elites, the transformation of Chinese cities, American policy toward China during World War II, the Cultural Revolution, and the transition from empire to nation in comparative perspective, and the year 1943 in China. After forty years of teaching at the University of Oregon and the University of California at San Diego, Esherick retired in 2012 and now lives in Berkeley, California.


April 15
12:15 pm – 1:30 pm
Event Category:


Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies


CGIS South Room S250

1730 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 United States

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