Monday, October 13, 2008

Historian and Author to Speak at China Research Center Event in Atlanta

The China Research Center at Mercer’s Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics will inaugurate a new event series with a lecture by noted historian and author Kenneth Pomeranz, Ph.D., at 7 p.m., Oct. 15, in the Rich Auditorium at the High Museum in downtown Atlanta. He will discuss his recent work on China’s state, society and economy in a presentation titled “Chinese Development and World History: Putting the East Asian Model in Perspective.”

The High Museum of Art is hosting the event in conjunction with its fall exhibition, The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army. No registration is required for this event. The lecture is free and open to the public.

In his lecture, Dr. Pomeranz will examine how the levels of economic performance in core regions of Europe and East Asia were surprisingly similar until almost 1800. Despite the enormous setbacks and turmoil of the 19th and 20th centuries, certain basic elements of the high Qing (i.e., China’s last dynasty) political economy remained intact and ultimately proved quite compatible with new waves of growth, at least for coastal China; those patterns resemble some aspects of a distinctive pattern of industrialization previously seen in Japan and Taiwan. In the Chinese case, however, the “East Asian” features of development along the coast must be seen in the context of relations between the coast and the Chinese interior. Today, the government’s “develop the West” program — set against a backdrop both of looming resource shortages in East China industries, unusually large regional differences in living standards, unprecedented rates of migration directed towards the coast and urbanization — may represent both the outcome and the end of social, economic and environmental patterns that have characterized China’s political economy for centuries.

Dr. Pomeranz has been recognized as a leading historian of China who moves beyond the study of a self-contained "China" or “East Asia” by attempting to understand the origins of a world economy as the outcome of mutual influences among various regions, rather than the simple imposition by a more "advanced" Europe on the rest of the world.

His book, “The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy” (Princeton University Press, 2000), makes groundbreaking arguments on issues concerning global history and challenges the conventional notion of China’s backwardness in the modern era. It won the 2000 John K. Fairbank prize, making Dr. Pomeranz the only historian who has won this prestigious prize twice. “Great Divergence” also won the 2001 World History Association Book Prize and was chosen as one of Choice’s Outstanding Academic Books of 2000.

He is also the author of “The World that Trade Created” (with Steven Topik). He is currently working on a variety of projects, including a general history of Chinese political economy, from the 17th century to the present for Cambridge University Press, two edited volumes that will come out in 2009. Dr. Pomeranz was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.

Dr. Pomeranz is Chancellor's Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine, and founding director of the University of California’s Multi-Campus Research Program in World History.

The event is co-sponsored by the School of History, Technology and Science and The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology; The Program in World History and Cultures, Department of History, Georgia State University; The Stetson School of Business and Economics, Mercer University; and The Confucius Institute of Atlanta.

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