The Saga of Anthropology in China: From Malinowski to Moscow to Mao

By Gregory Eliyu Guldin | Go to book overview

Chapter 5

Transitions

With the increasingly rapid gains the Red Army was making in 1948 and 1949, it was becoming obvious to most observers that the corrupt and demoralized rule by the Nationalist Party over China was coming to an end. With the failure of the Guomindang (GMD) anti-Communist offensive of 1946, the tide of battle increasingly favored the revolutionary forces, resulting first in the "liberation" of the northeast and then, successively, other areas of the country. By January 1949, Beiping was peacefully liberated, and within another year the mainland was united (except for the colonies of Hong Kong and Macao) under the new flag of the People's Republic of China.

Individual scholars at home and abroad had to come to terms with the tremendous changes sweeping their homeland and their own lives. For many there was no question of "living under Communism," and they fled as quickly as the Nationalist armies of Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek) collapsed. Those with families and relatives abroad found it easiest to leave; thus it is not surprising that there was a greater exodus from the overseas-connected south than from the north. 1

Especially great was the drain of talent from the southern universities. Wei Huilin, who had left Nanjing University's Sociology Department to teach at Zhongda in 1948, departed at this time, as did Rui Yifu and Ling Chunsheng from the History and Philology Institute's Ethnology Section. In fact, virtually the whole of Academia Sinica soon departed Nanjing for Taiwan, where it was to be reconstituted and where it remains.

On arriving in Taiwan, Ling and Rui quickly set up a Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at National Taiwan University during the summer of

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