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date: 27 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The modernist, critical turn in Chinese historiography in the first years of the twentieth century created space for new categories, narrative frameworks, and kinds of explanation. The generation of the 1910s and 1920s took advantage of this, offering new conceptions of the distant origins of Chinese civilization and suggesting different ways of narrating China’s development, one of which was the coexistence and interaction of ethnic groups. Under the pressure of Japanese invasion in the 1930s and the prominence of a Japanese historiography that made the differences among ethnicities seem greater than their union in the Chinese empire, Chinese history-writing reverted to a reverential attitude toward an immemorial “Chineseness.” The advent of a socialist government changed the balance. In more recent years, world history, economic history, and the rethinking of the “imagined community” have become prominent, as Chinese historians wrestle with different problems raised by coexistence in a global commons.

Keywords: historiography, nation, nationalism, narration, ethnicity

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