Rebecca E. Karl is Associate Professor of History at New York University. She is the author of
The Economic, China, World History: A Critique of Pure Ideology
This essay argues that the 1990s reconjoining of China to world history through the “reorienting” or recentering of the Chinese economy in global economic history is a pure ideology of neoliberal normativity. Excavating the earlier moment in the 1930s, when Chinese history originally was rewritten in an economic idiom, the essay explores the relation between the 1930s and 1990s versions of this history, at the same time analyzing problems in comparative conceptual historical method. Mobilizing a comparative method that is at one and the same time intranational and international (with Japanese historiography), the essay is intended as both an ideological and a methodological intervention.