Posts Tagged ‘history’

Lin Chun China expert

Chun, L. (2017). Discipline and power: knowledge of China in political science. Critical Asian Studies49(4), 501-522. doi:10.1080/14672715.2017.1362321

Lin Chun or ResearchGate:

p. 501 – is political science “softer” than the other soft social sciences?
thus…  political science “may never live up to its lofty ambition of scientific explanation and prediction. Indeed, like other social sciences, it can be no more than a ‘ science in formation’ permanently seeking to surmount obstacles to objectivity.”

p. 502 disciplinary parochialism
the fetishes of pure observation, raw experience, unambiguous rationality, and one-way causality were formative influences in the genesis of the social sciences. the ‘unfortunate positivism” of such impulses, along with the illusion of a value-free science, converged to produce a behavioral revolution in the interwar period Behaviorism was then followed through an epistemological twist, by boldly optimistic leaps to an “end of ideology” and ultimately to a claimed “end of history” itself.

p. 503
early positivism was openly underpinned by an European condescension toward Asians’ “ignorance and prejudice.” Behind similar depictions lay a comprehensive Eurocentric social and political philosophy.
this is illustrated its view of China through the grand narrative of modernization.

p. 504
Robert McNamara famously reiterated that if World War I was a chemist’s war and Word War II a physicist’s, Vietnam “might well have to be considered the social scientists’ war.”

Although China nominally remains a communist state, it has doubtlessly changed color without a color revolution.

p. 505
In the fixed disciplinary eye, “China” is to specific to produce anything generalizable beyond descriptive and self-containing narratives. The area studies approach, in contrast to disciplinary approaches, is all about cultural, historical, and ethnographic specificities.

If first-hand information contradicts theoretical conclusions, redress is sought only at the former end (my note – ha ha ha, such an elegant but scathing criticism of [Western] academia).

The catch [is] that Chinese otherness is in essence not a matter of cultural difference (hence limitations of criticizing Eurocentrism and Orientalism) and does not merely reproduce itself by inertia.
Given a long omitted self-critical rethinking of the discipline’s parochial base, calling for cross-fertilizing alone would be fruitless or even lead only to a one-way colonization of seemingly particularistic histories by an illusive universal science.

p. 506
political culture, once a key concept of political science’s hope for unified theorization, has turned out to be no answer
Long after its heyday, modernization theory – now with its new face of globalization – remains a primary signifier and legitimating benchmark. To those, who use it to gauge developments since 1945, private property and liberal democracy are permanent, unquestioned norms that are to be globally homogenized.
Moreover, since modernity is assumed to be a liberal capitalists condition, the revolutionary nationalism of an oppressed people remaking itself into a new historical subject noncompliant with capitalism cannot be modernizational.

p. 507
Political scientists and historical sociologists… saw the communist in power as formidable modernizers, but distinguished the Maoist model from the Stalinist in economic management and campaign politics.
Their analyses showed how organic connections between top-down mobilization and bottom-up participation cultivated in an active citizenry and high intensity politics. My note: I disagree here with the author, since such statement can be arbitrary from a historical point of view; indeed, for a short period of time, such “organic connection” can produce positive results, but once calcitrated (as it is in China for the past 6-7 decades), it turns stagnant.

p. 510
the state’s altered support base is essentially a matter of class power, involving both adaptive cultivation of new economic elites and iron-fist approaches to protest and dissent. By the same weight of historical logic, the party’s internal decay, loss of its founding ideological vision and commitment, and collusion with capital will do more than any outside force ever could do to destroy the regime.
That the Party stays in power is not primarily because the country’s economy continues to grow, but is more attributable to a residual social reliance on its credentials and organizational capacities accumulated in earlier revolutionary and socialist struggles. This historical promise has so far worked to the extent that cracks within the leadership are more or less held in check, resentment against local wrongs are insulated from central intentions, and social policies in one way or another respond to common outcries, consultative deliberations, and pressure groups.

p. 511
The word “madness” has indeed been freely employed to describe nations and societies judged inept at modern reason, as found in contemporary academic publications on epi- sodes of the PRC history.
My note: I agree with this – the deconstructionalists: (Jaques Derrida, Tzvetan Todorov) linguistically prove the inability of Western cultures to understand and explain other cultures. In this case, Lin Chun is right; just because western political scientist cannot comprehend foreign complex societal problems and/or juxtaposing them to their own “schemes,” prompts the same western researchers to announce them as “mad.”

p. 513aa
This is the best and worst of times for the globalization of knowledge. In one scenario, an eventual completion of the political science parameters can now seal both knowledge, sophisticatedly canalized, and ideology, universally uncontested – even if the two are never separable in the foundation of political science. In another scenario, causes and effects no longer rule out atypical polities, but the differences are presented as culturally incompatible. In either case, the trick remains to let anormalies make the norms validate preexist- ing disciplinary sanctions.

p. 514
Overcoming outmoded rigidities will nurture a robust scholarship committed to universally resonant theories.

more on China in this IMS blog

Robert Paxton

The Cultural Axis

The Nazi-Fascist New Order for European Culture

by Benjamin G. Martin
Harvard University Press, 370 pp., $39.95
“When I hear the word ‘culture,’ I reach for my revolver.”
Kultur, he explains (along with Bildung, or education), denoted in pre-unification Germany those qualities that the intellectuals and professionals of the small, isolated German middle class claimed for themselves in response to the disdain of the minor German nobles who employed them: intellectual achievement, of course, but also simple virtues like authenticity, honesty, and sincerity.
German courtiers, by contrast, according to the possessors of Kultur, had acquired “civilization” from their French tutors: manners, social polish, the cultivation of appearances. As the German middle class asserted itself in the nineteenth century, the particular virtues of Kultur became an important ingredient in national self-definition. The inferior values of “civilization” were no longer attributed to an erstwhile French-educated German nobility, but to the French themselves and to the West in general.
By 1914, the contrast between Kultur and Zivilisation had taken on a more aggressively nationalist tone. During World War I German patriotic propaganda vaunted the superiority of Germany’s supposedly rooted, organic, spiritual Kultur over the allegedly effete, shallow, cosmopolitan, materialist, Jewish-influenced “civilization” of Western Europe. Martin’s book shows how vigorously the Nazis applied this traditional construct.
Goebbels and Hitler were as obsessed with movies as American adolescents are today with social media.
Music was a realm that Germans felt particularly qualified to dominate. But first the German national musical scene had to be properly organized. In November 1933 Goebbels offered Richard Strauss the leadership of a Reich Music Chamber.
Goebbels organized in Düsseldorf in 1938 a presentation of “degenerate music” following the better-known 1937 exhibition of “degenerate art.”
As with music, the Nazis were able to attract writers outside the immediate orbit of the Nazi and Fascist parties by endorsing conservative literary styles against modernism, by mitigating copyright and royalty problems, and by offering sybaritic visits to Germany and public attention.
Painting and sculpture, curiously, do not figure in this account of the cultural fields that the Nazis and Fascists tried to reorganize “inter-nationally,” perhaps because they had not previously been organized on liberal democratic lines. Picasso and Kandinsky painted quietly in private and Jean Bazaine organized an exhibition with fellow modernists in 1941. Nazi cultural officials thought “degenerate” art appropriate for France.
Science would have made an interesting case study, a contrary one. Germany dominated the world of science before 1933. Germans won fifteen Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine between 1918 and 1933, more than any other nation. Far from capitalizing on this major soft power asset, Hitler destroyed it by imposing ideological conformity and expelling Jewish scientists such as the talented nuclear physicist Lise Meitner. The soft power of science is fragile, as Americans may yet find out.
American soft power thrived mostly through the profit motive and by offering popular entertainment to the young.


The Original Axis of Evil

THE ANATOMY   OF FASCISM By Robert O. Paxton. 321 pp. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. $26.

fascism — unlike Communism, socialism, capitalism or conservatism — is a smear word more often used to brand one’s foes than it is a descriptor used to shed light on them.

World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 contributed mightily to the advent of fascism. The war generated acute economic malaise, national humiliation and legions of restive veterans and unemployed youths who could be harnessed politically. The Bolshevik Revolution, but one symptom of the frustration with the old order, made conservative elites in Italy and Germany so fearful of Communism that anything — even fascism — came to seem preferable to a Marxist overthrow.

Paxton debunks the consoling fiction that Mussolini and Hitler seized power. Rather, conservative elites desperate to subdue leftist populist movements ”normalized” the fascists by inviting them to share power. It was the mob that flocked to fascism, but the elites who elevated it.

Fascist movements and regimes are different from military dictatorships and authoritarian regimes. They seek not to exclude, but rather to enlist, the masses. They often collapse the distinction between the public and private sphere (eliminating the latter). In the words of Robert Ley, the head of the Nazi Labor Office, the only private individual who existed in Nazi Germany was someone asleep.

t was this need to keep citizens intoxicated by fascism’s dynamism that made Mussolini and Hitler see war as both desirable and necessary. ”War is to men,” Mussolini insisted, ”as maternity is to women.”

For every official American attempt to link Islamic terrorism to fascism, there is an anti-Bush protest that applies the fascist label to Washington’s nationalist rhetoric, assault on civil liberties and warmaking.


Is Fascism Back?–paxton-2016-01


Paxton, R. O. (1998). The five stages of fascism. Journal Of Modern History70(1), 1.

Paxton, R. O. (2012). The Civic Foundations of Fascism in Europe: Italy, Spain and Romania, 1870-1945. New Left Review, (74), 140-144.

Paxton, R. O. (2000). Nationalism, Anti-Semitism and Fascism in France (Book Review). Journal Of Modern History72(3), 814.

more on history in this IMS blog

Britain US China

LEVERAGING HISTORY What Britain’s Decline and America’s Rise Can Tell Us about China’s Future

Colonial interests compelled Great Britain to build a complex economic system that funneled resources and wealth to the home islands.  Great Britain’s time as the central organizing great power came to a rapid end, with the United States filling that central role.

the United States can no longer uphold all its commitments to international laws and norms. Gaps in attention to historical American commitments have opened the door for competitor nations, including China, to challenge U.S. leadership at the margins.

p. 17 Does China have a strategic plan to replace the United States as the leader of the world? Some voices suggest that it does; however, it is important to note that they do not suggest that it is modeling its ascent upon the United States’ rise a century ago

more on history in this IMS blog

cartoons humor learning

Creating Cartoons to Spark Engagement, Learning

my note:
Avoid using infographics for purposes, which toodoo can serve.
Infographics are for about visualization of stats, not just visualization.
By Vicki E. Phillips
As instructors, we are constantly looking for new ways to capture our students’ attention and increase their participation in our classes, especially in the online modalities. We spend countless hours crafting weekly announcements for classes and then inevitably receive multiple emails from our students asking the very same questions that we so carefully and completely answered in those very same announcements! The question remains, how do we get them to read our posts?
It was precisely that problem I was trying to solve when I came across several articles touting the benefits of comics in higher education classrooms. I knew I couldn’t create an entire comic book, but I wondered if I could create a content-related cartoon that would not only capture students’ attention and maybe make them laugh, but also interest them enough that they would read the entire announcement or post. In doing so, I would be freed from responding to dozens of emails asking the same questions outlined in the announcements and students could focus on the homework.
A quick Internet search led me to a plethora of free “click and drag” cartoon making software applications to try. I started posting my own cartoons on characters, themes, etc. on the weekly literature we were studying in my upper division American and Contemporary World Literature classes, as well as to offer reminders or a few words of encouragement. Here’s an example of one I posted during week 7 of the semester when students can become discouraged with their assignment load:
After a positive response, I decided to provide my online students the opportunity to try their hand at cartoon creation. I created a rubric and a set of instructions for an easy to use, free program that I had used, and I opened up the “cartoon challenge” to the students. The results were nothing short of amazing—what intrigued me the most was the time and effort they took with their cartoons. Not only did they create cartoons on the story we were reading, but they also wrote additional posts explaining their ideas for the creation, discussing why they chose a particular scene, and identifying those elements pertinent to the points they were making. These posts tended to receive many more substantial comments from their peers than the traditional discussion board posts, indicating they were being read more.
When students in my face-to-face course heard about the cartoons, they asked to try this approach as well. Their cartoons, shared in class via the overhead projector, led to some of the most engaging and interesting discussions I have ever had in the residential literature classes as students explained how they came up with the elements they chose, and why they picked a certain scene from the reading. The positive student feedback has been instrumental in my continuing to offer this option in both my online and face-to-face classes.
How does one get started in making these cartoons? The good news is you do not have to be an artist to make a cartoon! There are free programs with templates, clip art, and all the elements you would need to click and drag into place all those wonderful ideas you have simmering in your brain. My favorite to use is ToonDoo, available at I like it because there are literally hundreds of elements, a search bar, and it lets me customize what I want to say in the dialog bubbles. It is very user friendly, even for those of us with limited artistic ability.
The whole experience has been overwhelmingly positive for me, and judging from the feedback received, for the students as well. It has also reminded me of one of my teaching goals, which is to incorporate more activities which would fall under assimilating and creating aspects of Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, 2001). If that is your goal as well, then try inserting a cartoon in those weekly announcements and ask for feedback from your students—I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!
Armstrong, Patricia (n.d.) Bloom’s Taxonomy, Vanderbilt University, Center for Teaching. Retrieved from
Pappas, Christopher (2014) The 5 Best Free Cartoon Making Programs for Teachers. Retrieved from:
Vicki E. Phillips is an assistant professor of English and Literature at Rasmussen College, Ocala, Fla.

cartoons for historians and history teaching / learning:

more on effective presentations in this IMS blog

more on create infographics in this IMS blog:

interactive historical map

Chronas – Interactive Historical Map and Data Sets

My note: it is not about history ONLY, it is about gamifying your lesson plan.

more on history in this IMS blog
more on digital storytelling in this IMS blog:
more on gamification in this IMS blog

politics of Europe

Between Past and Future: The Revolutions of 1989 and Their Aftermath

By Sorin Antohi, Vladimir Tismaneanu

Post-Theory, Games, and Discursive Resistance: The Bulgarian Case

By Aleksandŭr Kʹosev

Mitteleuropa und der Balkan. Erotik der Geopolitik. Die Images zweier Regionen in den westlichen Massenmedien
“Mitteleuropa” and the Balkans. Eroticism of Geopolitics. The Images of Two Regions in Western Media

Author(s): Aleksander Kiossev
Subject(s): Cultural Essay, Political Essay, Societal Essay
Published by: Neue Literatur

timeline tools for history and education

Technology tools for history lessons

HSTRY Timeline Creator.
HSTRY is a multimedia timeline creation tool that will work on your laptop, Chromebook, iPad, or tablet. With a HSTRY account you can build timelines in a vertical scroll format similar to that of a Facebook feed. To start the process pick a topic and upload a cover photo. To add events to the timeline just click the “+” symbol and select the type of media that you want to add to your timeline. You can add videos, images, audio, and text to the events on your timeline.
There are two features of HSTRY that make it stand-out from the crowd. First, as a teacher you can create an online classroom in which you can view all of your students’ timelines. Second, as a teacher you can build questions into timelines that you share with your students. You can even build-in explanations of the answers to your questions.
For other timeline creation tools, check out this chart.

My note: HSTRY could be a great tool, if the organizers were not that greedy. Their plan + kicks in way to early and does not allow participants to collaborate. E.g., Zaption allows teachers / students to “share” their presentations, but HSTRY asks right away to upgrade. Thumb down!


5 Timeline Creation Tools Compared – Chart

Free Online Tools for Creating Timelines – Richard Byrne –

  Multimedia options Collaboration options Registration required iPad/ tablet compatibility Output/ publishing
Timeline JS

Text Images Videos Yes, if you collaborate through Google Spreadsheets*** Google Account required. Display: yes Creation: no Embed code for posting  on blog / website.
RWT Timeline

Text Images No. No. iPad app Android app Web app PDF.

Image saved on camera roll.


Text Images Yes. Yes. Display: yes Creation: yes Embed code for posting on blog / website. Direct link to TG page.

Text Images Videos Yes. Yes. Display: yes Creation: no Embed code for posting on blog / website.

Text Images Videos No. Yes. Display: yes Creation: iOS PDF.

Embed code.

*TimeGlider’s basic plan is free for students. A paid subscription is required to activate collaboration tools.

**Dipity’s basic plan is free for students. The basic account is limited to three timelines.

***Timeline JS utilizes Google Spreadsheets as the basis of timeline event creation. Students collaborate on a spreadsheet to build timelines. A video of the process is available at


More on the use of technology in history in this IMS blog:

research historians

Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians

December 7, 2012 Roger C. SchonfeldJennifer Rutner

history as a field in transition. It is characterized by a vast expansion of new sources, widely adopted research practices and communication mechanisms shaped by new technologies, and a small but growing subset of scholars utilizing new methodologies to ask questions or share findings in fresh, unique ways.

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