Chinese Politics Spring 2008

Chinese Politics Spring 2008 - Spring 2008 Dickinson...

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Spring 2008 Prof. Diamant Dickinson College Stern Center 107 Department of East Asian Studies Department of Political Science Office Hours: T 4:15-5:15; W 4:15-5:15 and by appt. Phone: x-1540 e-mail: diamantn Chinese Politics (POLSCI 255; EAS 206) Generally speaking, China does not get good press. Its government is often called a “dictatorship”; many complain about its human rights abuses, repression of Tibetans, journalists, Christians and intellectuals, missile sales to countries like North Korea and Pakistan; its people are said to yearn for more freedom and democracy, but are stymied by a stuck-in-the-mud Communist Party. Americans may respect China for its recent economic growth, but few have favorable opinions of its government. In most people’s minds, China is conceived in what might be called “aggregate” terms: “the government” does “x” or “y”; “China” is booming; “Chinese are repressed.” Many things are lost when we use this sort of language: the place of the individual in the political system, variations in how people responded to political events, the divergence between what the government wants to happen and what actually happens on the ground, resistance and accommodation to the state and more. Complexity and nuance are easily lost. This course aims to provide students with an appreciation for complexity both within the party/state and Chinese society. It will cover some aspects of “traditional” China, but will focus more intensely on the Maoist (1949-1976) and reform periods (1978- ). We will see that it is very difficult to generalize about China, a country with 1.3 billion people, multiple ethnic groups, classes, and regional variations. Just like there are differences between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Austin and Dallas, so too are there differences between different Chinese cities, between city and countryside, intellectuals and workers. This was true both historically, when China was less populous and open to the West, and it remains true today, as China is more engaged in the world economy. My goal for this course is to expose you to this complexity, while at the same time providing the basic facts about government, historical events and figures to make you “literate” about this particular region of the world. This course is divided into two main sections. In the first, lasting roughly a month, we will go over some of the basics about China: geography, economics, government, population and historical events and personalities. We will focus on China’s basic dilemma after 1839-42, when it lost the “Opium Wars” to the British: how to confront the Western challenge and how to change traditions and customs that were deemed to have held China back. We will do this largely though studying some literary masterpieces of the time, and possibly film as well. After we cover the basic historical timeline (if you feel lost you can meet me during office hours or consult other sources), we will delve into
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This note was uploaded on 04/09/2008 for the course POLYSCI 255 taught by Professor Diamant during the Spring '08 term at Dickinson.

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Chinese Politics Spring 2008 - Spring 2008 Dickinson...

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