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HIST 2465 Democracy and Modern China


HIST 2465 Democracy and Modern China

Tuesday and Thursday: 1:25-2:40

Dr. John Barwick

Chinese political culture has long been characterized by authoritarianism, from the time of the old imperial order up until the present Communist era. Yet the twentieth century in China witnessed a profound engagement with notions of democracy that was evident in the realms of both political discourse and political practice. This course will explore the many fascinating forms that this engagement took, from attempts to transform the ailing Qing dynasty into a constitutional monarchy to the establishment of a short-lived republic by Sun Yatsen, from the lionizing of “Mr. Democracy” during the May Fourth movement in the 1920s to the trumpeting of “New Democracy” by Mao Zedong twenty years later, and from movements for democratic change under Communist rule such as the Tiananmen Square protests to the flourishing of democratic ideals in the present-day Hong Kong and Taiwan. The aim of the course will be to reflect on how democracy as a political concept has been understood and used in different contexts and the nature of its role in China’s modern political evolution.

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