In The Magic of Concepts Rebecca E. Karl interrogates "the economic" as concept and practice as it was construed historically in China in the 1930s and again in the 1980s and 1990s. Separated by the Chinese Revolution and Mao's socialist experiments, each era witnessed urgent discussions about how to think about economic concepts derived from capitalism in modern China. Both eras were highly cosmopolitan and each faced its own global crisis in economic and historical philosophy: in the 1930s, capitalism's failures suggested that socialism offered a plausible solution, while the abandonment of socialism five decades later provoked a rethinking of the relationship between history and the economic as social practice. Interweaving a critical historiography of modern China with the work of the Marxist-trained economist Wang Yanan, Karl shows how "magical concepts" based on dehistoricized Eurocentric and capitalist conceptions of historical activity that purport to exist outside lived experiences have erased much of the critical import of China's twentieth-century history. In this volume, Karl retrieves the economic to argue for a more nuanced and critical account of twentieth-century Chinese and global historical practice.
Publisher: Duke University Press
Number of pages: 232
Weight: 318 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
"A challenging and often compelling perspective on modern Chinese history." -- Terry Peach * European Journal of the History of Economic Thought *
"An intelligent analysis of important historiographical issues in modern Chinese history." -- Margherita Zanasi * American Historical Review *
"Since The Magic of Concepts came out, I have found myself constantly recommending it to friends and colleagues, and in particular to friends and colleagues who are not scholars of modern China. And not just because I assume all modern China specialists already pay attention to Rebecca Karl's work; rather, it is because she achieves in this book what historians often strive and fail to do, or at least fail to do well-to truly engage the global and the present from the specific geographical and chronological perspective of our chosen historical subjects." -- Fabio Lanza * Journal of Asian Studies *