How has Western social science scholarship of contemporary China (1949‒) evolved over the past 7+ decades? In this special China Centre lecture, Professor David Shambaugh will reflect on the evolution and state of the field throughout the People’s Republic of China. During the 1950s‒1960s, when they could not go to mainland China, Western scholars had to watch China from the periphery or afar. Beginning in the late-1970s direct access to China opened ‒ which offered first-hand research opportunities, dramatically broadening and deepening the field, but also with some less positive consequences. Under Xi Jinping’s rule, however, China is once again becoming physically closed to foreign scholars, many research topics are circumscribed, and history is being rewritten by the regime. As a result, scholars and other analysts are once again being forced to study the country from afar ‒ with different research tools and uncertain consequences for the field.
Professor David Shambaugh is the Gaston Sigur Professor of Asian Studies, Political Science & International Affairs, and Director of the China Policy Program, Elliott School of International Affairs, at George Washington University.