The Magic of Concepts: History and the Economic in Twentieth-Century China
Rebecca E. Karl is Associate Professor of History at New York University. She is the author of Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History and Staging the World: Chinese Nationalism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, and co-translator (with Xueping Zhong) of Cai Xiang's Revolution and Its Narratives: China’s Socialist Literary and Cultural Imaginaries, 1949-1966, all also published by Duke University Press. She co-translated and coedited (with Lydia H. Liu and Dorothy Ko) The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory.
The Economic as Lived Experience: Semicolonialism and China
This essay explores the concept of the semicolonial as a form of the locally lived global history of capitalism as a socioeconomic and cultural formation. By contrasting the 1930s and the 1990s versions of the concept—where the 1930s poses the problem in a global imperialist context and the 1990s poses it in a national cultural one—the essay investigates the ways in which culturalism is smuggled back into the center of historical inquiry in the guise of economic empiricism. Juxtaposing Wang Yanan’s and his contemporaries’ expositions of semicolonialism in the 1930s and 1940s to the emergence in the 1980s and 1990s of a historiographical re-examination of semicolonialism and semifeudalism as a form of revolutionary repudiation, the essay continues the intranational comparative interventions begun earlier in the volume.