ICOM6003 Divergent Modernities

Historical Perspectives

Last updated: 18 October 2012



John Aldrich  Murray 4008  john.aldrich@soton.ac.uk

Office hours   Wednesday 14.00-14.45   Thursday 11.00-11.45



Tuesday 54/8033 (8B)      14.00

Thursday 58/1001 (LRA) 15.00



For the past 250 years Western scholars have tried to fit China into a pattern they had devised to embrace all times and places. This Historical Perspectives part of Divergent Modernities examines their attempts to fit China into an economic and/or demographic pattern. It looks at some classic authors from the 18C to 20C and at the contemporary debate on the great divergence between Europe and Asia from the C17 to the C20.


·       Before the Enlightenment

·       Adam Smith

·       Malthus

·       John Stuart Mill

·       Hegel and Marx

·       Max Weber


·       C20 scholarship—on Economic History & China:

·       World History—David Landes

·       The Great Divergence—Kenneth Pomeranz

·       Malthus revisited



Some general references

·         Raymond Dawson (1967) The Chinese Chameleon: An Analysis of European Conceptions of Chinese Civilization, Oxford UP.

·         David Martin Jones (2001) The Image of China in Western Social and Political Thought, Palgrave.

·         Roger Backhouse (2002) The Penguin History of Economics, Penguin. 

·         Jack Goody (2004) Capitalism and Modernity: The Great Debate, Polity Press.

·         Niall Ferguson (2011) Civilization: The West and the Rest, Allen Lane.

·         Angus Maddison (1999) Chinese Economic Performance in the Long Run, OECD. A Google Books search on word China and author Maddison will find the entire test.

 The Liberty Classics website has online editions of many of the classic works. The library has paper copies but for searching the digital versions are better.   The online Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is a good source for basic biographical information about British figures of the past.


Lecture notes & seminar topics—slides

I will add to the slides as we go along aiming to upload the latest ones before the relevant lecture. It is a good idea to print them in advance and annotate them during the lectures—not everything I say is on the slides!

All slides