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Relearning the Lost Arts of China Scholarship Workshop Series

October 1, 2021

As our access to Chinese data sources becomes increasingly constrained, and the political atmosphere narrows opportunities for informal collaboration, many China scholars physically outside China have been scrambling to find new and innovative ways to mitigate these trends.  One promising - but rarely mentioned - avenue is to dust off the tools Sinologists utilized from the 1960s through the 1970s, when it was impossible to contemplate the kind of access that many of us have been able to take for granted, but which allowed these scholars to get so many things about China right.
What are these skills - the analytical tools and the strategies to deploy them - and how might we be able to adapt them to the current research climate (and the foreseeable future)?  Hosted by Prof. Andrew Mertha, the SCGRC has launched the Relearning the Lost Arts of China Scholarship workshop series, where we invite leading China scholars for in-depth discussions of their methodological approaches and the methods they used to conduct some of the most rigorous and breakthrough research on China today.
Through this innovative workshop series, we tackle a number of issues that we as a community of scholars face today. These include, but are not limited to:
  • The methods used and the strategies employed to secure useful data, and the circumstances that privileged some methods/strategies over others. 
  • The relationship between data scarcity/availability and choice of research questions or topics.
  • Filling in the gaps in the data and constructing interpretations of it that satisfy the analytical rigor of the field. 
  • The degree to which these skills, developed in the 1960s and 1970s, travel into the present day. 
  • Larger questions about the current constraints in studying of China and the disciplinary mandates we face.
  • Implications in how we work with the policy world.
In Part I of the Relearning the Lost Arts of China Scholarship workshop series, the SCGRC hosted Professor Frederick Teiwes, Emeritus Professor of Chinese Politics, University of Sydney, and one of the most important and influential scholars of elite politics over the past five decades. In Part II of the workshop series, we hosted Professor Joseph Fewsmith and Professor Alice Miller.

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You can watch their full talks and discussions with the SCGRC Inaugural Director, Prof. Andrew Mertha, here: