Comparing Taiwan to ….

I’m going to be teaching my 20th century China class for the second time in the Spring, and I still haven’t figured out how to handle Taiwan to my satisfaction. Ideally, I’d assign one of the new survey histories — Taiwan: A New History is in my office somewhere — but it’s enough work getting through the books I already assign with my students. Spence, for all his virtues, doesn’t really do Taiwan any justice in the later sections of The Search for Modern China1 so something needs to be done.

Anyway, that’s why I was particularly pleased to see a notice from Jonathan Benda about the first edition of the e-journal Taiwan in Comparative Perspectives. There are some interesting-looking articles: I skimmed the intro to one because I couldn’t tell from the title what it was about (it was about architecture, which I would have known if I knew anything about architecture) and skimmed through the one on comparative public memory as a possible reading for late in the semester. There’s a small book review section, but it includes — already in the first issue! — an unhappy response from the author of a reviewed book, which I love.2 There’s a thought-provoking, but pie-in-the-sky, article about the EU sovereignty model in relation to the Taiwan sovereignty question which I might well have to give to my China-US grad students. It’s all from a research group at the London School of Economics, and it’s free, so there’s no reason not to take a look at it.

  1. though I find the earlier sections quite good, very teachable  

  2. it’s the part I read first, in every journal I get: Communications to the Editor! Is this odd?  

1 Comment

  1. It may be worth looking at Diana Lary’s new text China’s Republic (Cambridge: CUP, 2007), which aims to fill the gap that Spence and others leave. Here is the blurb and the google link to browse a few pages:

    “Twenty-first century China is emerging from decades of war and revolution into a new era. Yet the past still haunts the present. The ideals of the Chinese Republic, which was founded almost a century ago after 2000 years of imperial rule, still resonate as modern China edges towards openness and democracy. Diana Lary traces the history of the Republic from its beginnings in 1912, through the Nanjing decade, the warlord era, and the civil war with the Peoples’ Liberation Army which ended in defeat in 1949. Thereafter, in an unusual excursion from traditional histories of the period, she considers how the Republic survived on in Taiwan, comparing its ongoing prosperity with the economic and social decline of the Communist mainland in the Mao years. This introductory textbook for students and general readers is enhanced with biographies of key protagonists, Chinese proverbs, love stories, poetry and a feast of illustrations.”

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