Open discussion. These questions will frame our exchange:
What does it mean to suggest that China – either in “traditional” times or today – is/was “unchanging”? What, in turn, are some reasons Peter Bol raises for doubting this assumption?
How might Bol respond to Pomfret, who suggested, “I think most Chinese want to live as Americans do and aspire to the power and freedom of the United States”? How would you respond?
Bol references Max Weber's ideas presented in The Protestant Ethicand the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) and The Religion of China (1915) to warn against establishing “false dichotomies” between East and West. What, in Bol’s view, is wrong with Weber? Identify one or two alternatives he proposes for making more productive comparisons.
Bol endorses Yu Yingshi’s argument that “The concept of ‘national history’ in its current Western usage was wholly unfamiliar to Chinese historians before the 20th century.” What is the larger point he is making about the Chinese nation? Why might this argument be uncomfortable or even offensive to some readers?
How can ethnicity (productively) complicate our understanding of China’s past?