Intellectuals and Social Movements in 20th century China

Seconde partie du séminaire de Sebastian Veg (EHESS, associé CECMC), « Histoire intellectuelle de la Chine moderne et contemporaine », qui se tiendra du 4 avril au 6 juin 2023.

Séminaire de recherche en anglais.

Les personnes intéressées sont invitées à s’inscrire via la page Participations (ou bien en envoyant un message à Sebastian Veg) afin d’être averti d’éventuelles modifications dans le déroulement des séances.

Histoire intellectuelle de la Chine au 20e siècle

Intellectuals and Social Movements in 20th century China

 2d semestre, 2022-23

Tous les mardi de 9h30 à 12h30, du 4 avril au 6 juin 2023.

Salle 50 (les 4 et 11 avril), puis Salle gradinée (18/4 au 6/6), bât. de l’EHESS, Campus Condorcet, 93300 Aubervilliers

La page du séminaire sera actualisée au fur et à mesure : 

Les documents sont disponibles via Dropbox


Are intellectuals as knowledge producers generally at the vanguard of social movements, or are social movements themselves producers of knowledge that movement intellectuals only collect and rationalize ? This theoretical question may receive different replies in different contexts. Intellectuals are often considered to have played a central role in China’s “short twentieth century” from the May Fourth movement of 1919 to the democracy movement of 1989. Who were China’s modern intellectuals and how did they interact with the rest of Chinese society ? What was their role in the mass mobilizations that took place repeatedly in China and on its margins throughout the century ? This seminar will adopt theoretical and empirical perspectives to reconsider this question.

1. Introduction: Intellectuals and social movements; History and Social sciences (4 April) – – Room/Salle 50

Readings (available via Dropbox – please read one of the following chapters before the first class):

– William H. Sewell Jr, Logics of History. Social Theory and Social Transformation, Chicago, U Chicago Press. 2005, chap. 1 “Theory, History and Social Science,” pp. 1-21.

– Ron Eyerman, Andrew Jamison. Social Movements. A Cognitive Approach. Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991. chap. 2 “Social Movements as Cognitive Praxis,” p. 45-65.  

– Elizabeth J. Perry, “Challenging The Mandate Of Heaven: Popular Protest in Modern China,” Critical Asian Studies, 33:2 (2001), p. 163-180. 

2. Social Movements and ideas in contemporary Hong Kong (11 April) -Room/ Salle 50

11:00-12:30: Guest lecture by Prof. Jeffrey Wasserstrom (UC Irvine): “Comparative and Historical Perspectives on Protest and Repression in 21st Century Hong Kong”

Abstract: This talk will explore the dramatic protests of the 2010s and extended crackdown of the 2020s that have radically transformed Hong Kong. Its particular focus will be on the value and limits of various ways of thinking about these events that involve analogies. What is gained and what is problematic about connecting these developments to things that took place in cities such as Shanghai during the Republican period (1912-1949) and other parts of the People’s Republic of China such as Tibet earlier in the post-1949 era? And looking in other directions, do events in Taiwan just before and during the period of martial law or Eastern and Central Europe in Cold War times provide illuminating comparative lenses? The speaker will treat all of these comparative moves as offering at best decidedly imperfect analogies for thinking about Hong Kong, but he will argue that it can be useful to place specific aspects of the city’s recent past into different comparative frameworks. In doing this, he will be attentive to both the use that activists and officials have made of history in defending or trying to delegitimize dissent, as well as to the forays into comparison that some other scholars, such as Ho-Fung Hung, have been making in the first wave of academic studies of the events of 2019 and the early 2020s. 
Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor’s Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, where he also holds courtesy appointments in the Law School and in the Literary Journalism Program. He has written, co-written, edited, or co-edited a dozen books, the most recent of which are Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink (Columbia Global Reports, 2020), which he wrote, and The Oxford History of Modern China (forthcoming, 2022), which he edited. In addition to contributing to academic journals, he often contributes to newspapers (including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times), magazines (such as the Atlantic), and literary reviews (e.g., the TLS and the Los Angeles Review of Books).

3. May Fourth 1919, the new intellectuals and the impact of Marxism (18 April)

4. The Anti-Civil War Movement and the Third Force intellectuals (9 May)

5. Social Movements in Maoist China: 1957 and its aftermath (16 May)

6. Hong Kong Protests of 1966-1967 and their impact on intellectuals (23 May)

7. Intellectuals and Taiwan’s democracy movement in the 1980s (30 May)

8. The Tiananmen movement and global 1989 (6 June)

Contact :

Citer ce billet
Monique Abud (2023, 28 mars). Intellectuals and Social Movements in 20th century China. Carnets du Centre Chine (CNRS/EHESS). Consulté le 1 mars 2024, à l’adresse

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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