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

By Gregory Eliyu Guldin | Go to book overview

Chapter 13

Some Observations
on Chinese and Global
Anthropology

Chinese anthropologists themselves stress the importance of history in their vision of anthropology, but history is also important in their version of anthropology. Much of what has happened in the anthropological sciences in China in the past decade is comprehensible only in the framework of some key regional and historical patterns. First, consider the situation before 1949.

At that time the major centers for anthropology in the north were at Yanjing and Qinghua universities in Beijing, and, in the south, at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, Xiamen University in Xiamen, and Yunnan University in Kunming, among other places. Then with the Soviet-inspired educational reorganization of the 1950s came anthropology's obliteration and academic dismissal for three decades. In Beijing, anthropology was fully superseded by new institutions that proceeded to build an infrastructure of scholars, journals, and disciplines, which grew in strength over the years. In the south and the rest of the country, with institutes and universities mostly denuded of anthropological scientists, the kind of new growth (in ethnology, archaeology, nationality language studies, and paleoanthropology) taking place in the north did not take firm root, and these areas remained largely, although not entirely, anthropologically vacant.

Then, with the warm spring of the 1980s, is it any wonder that anthropology was able to reemerge first in the south, in the very centers where it had been firmly planted before Liberation, but where few competing structures had been

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