The world’s attention has, for the most part, moved on from Wuhan, the city where the the Covid-19 virus outbreak began. Now the media both within and beyond China that are following the outbreak are tracking its rapid spread elsewhere. Within China, including in Wuhan, the number of those who have recovered is thankfully much higher than that of a shrinking number of new daily cases. Without a doubt, however, the city is still very much feeling, and will continue to feel the impact of Covid-19 for months and likely years to come. As of today, over 49,400 out of over 90,000 cases world wide were in the city of Wuhan itself, and thought over 23,000 are said to have recovered, there are still over 24,000 active cases listed in the city and over 2,200 of just over 3,000 dead so far have come from Wuhan alone.
Wuhan is, as Robert Bickers recently put it, “not an unknown place, it is not beyond our knowledge.” The city is one of China’s most important economic centers and, as Chris Courtney puts it so poetically in his excellent book focused on the city, The Nature of Disaster,
“It is impossible to traverse the terrain of modern Chinese history without alighting in Wuhan on several occasions, as the city so often found itself at the heart of national politics.” 1
In 1911, 1927, 1938, and in 1967, to name a few of the most important, Wuhan is truly of huge importance to the history of modern China.
To help remind us of the importance of the city, even as it begins to drop out of the international media reports surrounding the current crisis, I thought I would put together a timeline of events in the the three cities that make up Wuhan (Hankou, Wuchang, and Hanyang) cobbled together from some of the works I have been reading of late related to the city (not including the recent crisis). I have also been putting together a bibliography of books, articles, primary accounts, and some Chinese and Japanese publications related to Wuhan in the form of a shared Zotero library, that anyone can add to their own Zotero account if they like, or view directly online (avoid viewing it thorugh a mobile device as text notes seem to load incomplete).
You can find the timeline here:
And you can find the Zotero library with sources related to the history of Wuhan (see especially the “Key English Secondary” folder to help you get started) here:
History of Wuhan Zotero Library
(or load the bibliography of folders and items directly)
I’ll be expanding both of these in the days to come as I read more about Wuhan’s history. I haven’t yet added a timeline of the most recent outbreak events.
If you would like to make suggestions for additions or corrections to either the timeline or bibliography, feel free to email me at kml at huginn.net or you can find me on Twitter at @kmlawson. Anyone can “join” the Zotero group for read only access within your Zotero collections that will update over time as you sync your account.
Chris Courtney, The Nature of Disaster in China: The 1931 Yangzi River Flood (Cambridge University Press, 2019), 12. ↩