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National Circumstances, Patriotic Education, and a Curriculum for Chinese History


Academic historians, accustomed to their subject being on the margins of public life, were understandably excited and gratified to see the massive popular demonstrations concerning history curriculum in Hong Kong in summer of 2012. While the public reaction may have been unprecedented, this was certainly not the first attempt to implement a curriculum to transmit a particular narrative of China's past. What can the controversy, and specifically the textbook that launched it, tell us about contemporary China's evolving relationship with its own history? What lessons can be learned for the study and teaching of Chinese history in the future?


Professor Szonyi is currently Professor of Chinese History and Director of Undergraduate Studies at Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University. He is also the Chair of Committee on Regional Studies (East Asia) and a member of the Executive Committee of Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Professor Szonyi received his BA from the University of Toronto and his D.Phil. from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. His main research interests are the local history of southeast China, especially in the Ming Dynasty; the history of Chinese popular religion, and overseas Chinese history. His main academic publications include Cold War Island: Quemoy on the Front Line (Cambridge University Press, 2008) and Practicing Kinship: Lineage and Descent in Late Imperial China (Stanford University, 2002).

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