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Urban China Series featuring Toby Lincoln – Out of the Rubble of World War II: Reconstruction in China in Comparative Perspective
October 17, 2022 @ 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Speaker: Toby Lincoln, Associate Professor of Chinese Urban History, Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester.
This paper explores urban reconstruction in China after WWII, and argues that this was more successful than is normally thought, especially when compared with other countries similarly devastated by war. With a particular focus on Changsha, which probably suffered more destruction than any other city in China, it highlights how reconstruction in the late 1940s laid the foundation for the Chinese Communist Party to consolidate its power after 1949.
Studying postwar reconstruction frees modern Chinese history from the teleology of the Communist Revolution and the grand narrative of the Cold War. This opens the door to comparisons with Europe and other parts of the world, where reconstruction has long taken centre stage. It continues the historical re-evaluation of the Nationalist regime, casts the early years of Maoist China in a new light, and opens up new lines of historical enquiry into the social and cultural legacies of war. Finally, it is my contention that exploring how cities have faced disasters in the past has the potential to provide innovative solutions to contemporary issues.
Toby Lincoln is Associate Professor of Chinese Urban History at the Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester. He is the author of several articles and two books, the most recent of which is a summary of the history of Chinese cities entitled: An Urban History of China (Cambridge, 2021). His current research, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, explores how Chinese cities were reconstructed after WWII. Aside from this, he is also interested in questions of urban sustainability in the past and the present.
Zoom Meeting Link: https://harvard.zoom.us/j/96217779608