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Topics in History: China in a Global Perspective: Wars, Famines, and Refugees, 1926-1976

Black and white image of Mao Zedong meeting with US President Richard Nixon in 1972
China’s paramount leader Mao Zedong meets with US President Richard Nixon, February 21, 1972

This course, designed in the spirit of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, addresses a series of humanitarian crises in China from 1926 to 1976 from a global perspective. This period shapes the course of contemporary China, leaving a profound impact on the psyche of the Chinese and shaping their international interactions today. Students will learn how China struggled and adapted to the international order during the tumultuous 50 years under the influence of major global events, particularly the Second World War and the Cold War. Topics to be discussed begin with the impact of the Soviet Union on Chinese nationalism and civil war, and end with China’s rapprochement with the United States at the end of the Cultural Revolution. While the course focuses on Chinese experiences of war, famine, refugee crisis, economic dislocation, and poverty, it draws attention to how such experiences should be accounted for in a global framework. It will examine the successes and failures of Chinese governance in the context of foreign invasion, domestic turmoil, and global competition for dominance. The two-month course will provide sufficient time for the study and discussion of the period in focus, giving students a new perspective on the standard narrative of the rise of China and encouraging them to reflect on the sustainability of the China model. The course caters to students with or without prior knowledge of Chinese history. 

This course is being offered as a 3.0-unit seminar. 

Department of History, Queen's University

49 Bader Lane, Watson Hall 212
Kingston ON K7L 3N6




Queen's University is situated on traditional Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory.