China and World History

Paul Dukes interprets the heritage of China in the context of global history

Keeping up with the swing from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the Sixteenth International Congress of Historical Sciences in 1985 moved further away than its predecessors from a concentration on the West. There were more delegates than before from the East, especially Japan and China, and ample opportunity to listen to them on subjects close to their homes. In addition, general themes could be discussed in a more complete manner: 'Weber and the Methodology of History' included speakers from Japan, Hong Kong and India; 'The Image of the Other' was introduced by a wide range of papers, among them one on Judaism in China, and another on the minorities in pre-modern East Asia.

The more particular meeting that I attended, the International Commission on the History of the October Revolution in Russia, was able to do some justice to aspects of what my late supervisor Hugh Seton-Watson deemed to be 'unquestionably one of the greatest events in all human history' by involving forty speakers from fifteen different countries. These included Chen Zhihua, from the Institute of World History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who kindly gave me an overview of studies of world history in China from 1980 to 1984.

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