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A Summary of International Congress of Historical Sciences and China

发布日期:2015-8-26    作者:《中国历史评论》编辑部    来源:《中国历史评论》第十辑    阅读次数:906

 

1900-1920s

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, while the world capitalist system was taking its initial form, the establishment of international organizations in Europe led to the development of modern history science.

In 1900, the 1st International Congress of Historical Sciences (ICHS) was held in Paris, as part of the well-known World Exposition. The Congress’ philosophy was that “as long as we learn from the pastman can be closely connected with each other without ethnic differences, otherwise there is no other possible means”, indicating the general trend of world historical sciences development in the 20th century. At the 2nd ICHS held in Rome in 1903, Mommsen, who won the Noble Prize in Literature for his The History of Rome, and his student Perse loudly yelled to “break through ethnic boundaries!”

As Western historical sciences became internationalized, the ancient nation of China, together with her isolated Chinese history studies that had been developing for hundreds of years, began to get connected with the rest of the world. In 1902, Liang Qichao published his The New Historiography. He believed that the western civilization of its day should be ascribed to the development of historical science to a great extent. In 1905, Huang Jie, a famous newspaperman, mentioned in his article that the 3rd “International Congress of Historical Sciences” would be held in Berlin three years later, which was the very first coverage by the Chinese media.

The 4th ICHS was held in London in 1913, which almost coincided with the ICHS’s founding. A year later, the First World War began. After WWI, historians from warring nations, in spite of the hostility brought by the war, had made remarkable progress leading to the successful 5th ICHS in Brussels in 1923. The ICHS decided to hold the Congress meeting every five years as a convention and set up the International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS) as its permanent institution affiliated to the “League of Nations”, which ensured the basic framework of the International Congress of Historical Sciences as an academic community. The American Historical Review Issue No. 7, 1923, published a full-length article by Leland, a historian, who highly praised the momentous significance of the 5th ICHS in Brussels.

In the meantime, Journal of Historical and Geographical Society in China also documented the 5th ICHS. Titled A Review on The 5th International Congress of Historical Sciences in Brussels, the article from The American Historical Review was translated into Chinese by Xiang Da, a 23-year-old student from the Department of History and Geography, Nanjing Higher Normal School. He was deeply impressed by the ICHS, where about a thousand people attended it and even the King and the Prime Minister of Belgium contributed in its organization. In his preface, Xiang expressed his expectation for the participation of China. He said, “Most of participants in the ICHS were from Europe and America. But Japan, our neighboring country, had its representatives there. Among about 300 hundred papers, there are no less concerned with China, but no representative of our own has ever been there. I always wondered that it isn’t a tragedy when a country has no reserve personnel for its national affairs, but it is a supreme disgrace that a country is left behind by others in learning. ”

    In 1928, when the 6th Congress was held in Oslo, Norway, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a communiqué, which was the first time that the government of the Republic of China had officially paid attention. But its decision that “the government will not send any representative there for now” was extensively criticized by historians like Chen Xunci, Zhu Xizu. With his proposal, Zhu Xizu set up the Association of Chinese Historians the following year intending to hasten the integration with the International Committee of Historical Sciences. “No more delay should be allowed, otherwise we shall surely be thought to be good for nothing by the foreigners,” he said. Sadly, the Association of Chinese Historians founded in 1929 was dismissed in the same year. As a result, there was still no representative from China in the 7th ICHS in Warsaw in 1933, whose absence was also a great regret for the International Committee of Historical Sciences.

 

1930-1940s

In order to mobilize China to be part of the ICHS, Harold W. V. Timperley, President of the International Committee of Historical Sciences and a professor at Cambridge, arranged a special visit to China that lasted for nearly a month in 1936. On 16th November 1936, Timperley delivered his first speech since his arrival, The Development of International Congress of Historical Sciences and Its Organization, in Beijing (Peking) where he received the extraordinary hospitality from the Chinese scholars. Hardly did a grand occasion in China’s long history of academic study exist when great minds like Mei Yiqi, Luo Jialun, Yuan Tongli, Pan Guangdan, Shen Jianshi, Yao Congwu, Liu Chonghong were all present at his lectures.

Timperley’s speech was also full of passion as he said, “China, an ancient country of such a long history, ought to join in our ICHS family of over 40 countries. It would be a great honor in my life if I could make that happen.” He cordially invited Chinese historians to attend the ICHS, hoping that “one day the ICHS will be held in China, which is his greatest expectation.” During Timperley’s visit, Gu Jiegang, Chair of the History Department, Yenching University, and Tao Xisheng, Chair of the Political Science Department, Peking University, paid a visit to Timperley at Beijing Hotel. The visit impressed him so much that later Timperley wrote to Gu, saying that “I have talked with many Chinese historians about China’s joining in the ICHS, and so far no one has ever expressed any objection. It will have a great historical significance for both the ICHS and China if China can join in it. And I also believe that no one is more qualified than you to undertake this great job.”

On 17th December 1936, on his way back to his motherland, Timperley sent a letter to Cai Yuanpei, then President of Academia Sinica. Timperley believed that Academia Sinica was the most appropriate institute to apply for entering the ICHS. Cai replied, “It is a great honor that China can apply for entering the ICHS and present itself in the ICHS.” He appointed Fu Sinian, Director of Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, to this new position. Thus, Fu Sinian, known for his talents in organizing academic events, came onto the stage and became the most practical and powerful advocate in this mission. To this day, there are ten archives preserved in Nanjing Archives of the Republic of China about Fu’s efforts in promoting the application. Among them is one letter addressed to Chen Lifu, Minister of Education saying, “The ICHS is a renowned international academic convention governed by League of Nations, a grand occasion that should not be overlooked. More importantly, it concerns with modern diplomatic history and Far East history, which are easy to be taken advantage of by Japan to confuse the public. So we should pay enough attention to this occasion.”

With Fu’s unremitting effort, remarkable progress was made in China’s entering the ICHS and attending the 8th Congress in Zurich. The representative candidates would include Xu Dishan, Jiang TingfuGu Jiegang, Chen Yinke, Hu Shihand Fu Sinian himself. However, Jiang Tingfu, then Chinese ambassador to the Soviet Union at the time, who previously chaired the History Department in Tsinghua University, seemed to be the best candidate. It was in 1938 that the Second Sino-Japanese War began on a full scale and, Nanjing was occupied. The Ministry of Education and Academia Sinica relocated to the Southwest, but the efforts of attending the ICHS continued.

Wang Shijie, once the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Education successively, had always been a firm supporter. After having discussed with Cai Yuanpei, Fusinian and Chen Lifu, they agreed Hu Shih should be the representative from China who would attend the 8th Congress. Hu Shih, who was then in the United States, replied the following day after he had received the letter from China“Zurich, I will go for sure.”

In August 1938, although the whole world was shrouded in the dark clouds of World War II, the 8th ICHS was held in Zurich on schedule. There were about 900 representatives attending, including the Swiss president. Hu Shih, the first Chinese historian to attend the ICHS, delivered a speech during the meeting. Ten days later, he was appointed Chinese ambassador to the United States of America. In the 8th ICHS, China officially became a member of the International Committee of Historical Sciences. The ICHS, however, had been forced to suspend for ten years because of the ensuing World War II. Consequently, the formal relationship between China and the ICHS was broken for years to come.

 

1950-1980s

In 1949, the People's Republic of China was founded and in July 1951, a new Association of Chinese Historians was established in Beijing. At the same time, the International Committee of Historical Sciences resumed its activities in 1948. The 9th, 10th and 11th ICHSs conventions were respectively held in Paris in 1950, Rome in 1955, and Stockholm in 1960. And in 1950, the organization affiliated with UNESCO. With the background of Sino-Soviet friendship, China paid special attention during this period to the three consecutive ICHS meetings in which the Soviet Union and Eastern European socialist camp participated. In the 1960s, Chinese historians frequently excerpted the contents related to the ICHS from The American Historical Review, with their horizon broadened extensively. The connection between China and the ICHS, however, was completely ruptured due to China’s political environment that was generally growing tense with the “Cultural Revolution” at that time. It was during the “Cultural Revolution decade” that the 13th and 14th ICHS conventions were held in, Soviet Union and the United States in succession. In Moscow in 1970, about 3,305 people attended the ICHS, which set an all-time high record of the total number of participants. In 1975, nearly 75 nations participated in ICHS in San Francisco in the United States, which held the highest record of the total number of participating nations. The ICHS started to be well known as “the Olympics of historians”.

In 1978, along with China’s progress in reform and opening up, the relationship between China and the ICHS entered a new stage. In 1979, Edelman, then President of ICHS, wrote to China several times to invite Chinese historians to attend the 15th ICHS in Bucharest, Romania in 1980. He pointed out that without China, the meeting would lose its meaning of “international”. In the same year, Romanian President Ceausescu and parties concerned issued similar invitations to China. Due to the full implementation of the reform and opening up policy, coupled with the special friendship between China and Romania, the invitation was highly regarded by Hu Qiaomu, Secretary of CCCPC Secretariat and even more senior leaders. When Hu attended the Second Congress of the Association of Chinese Historians in April 1980, he delivered a long speech at the meeting. On his suggestion, the meeting decided to form a Chinese historians delegation to attend the 15th ICHS with observer status. In August 1980, the Chinese delegation headed by Xia Nai attended the 15th ICHS in Bucharest. When the President of the ICHS announced the arrival of the Chinese delegation, everyone stood and applauded, as the entire hall filled with the exciting cheers of “ China! China!”

In July 1984, Mrs. Ahrweiler, Secretary of the ICHS, visited the Association of Chinese Historians, and the two sides reached an agreement that China would officially attend the 16th ICHS in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1985. The Chinese Premier met with Mrs. Ahrweiler in Ziguangge, Zhongnanhai. In August, the Chinese delegation, composed of 20 members headed by Liu Danian and with Ji Xianlin as consultant, attended the 16th ICHS in Stuttgart, West Germany, where there were more than 3,000 delegates from 53 participating nations. The President of West Germany Weizsacker also attended the opening ceremony and delivered a speech. The Chinese delegation presented Symposium of the Chinese Scholars to the Congress as a gift. Scholars like Ji Xianlin read the abstracts of their papers. Liu was asked to make speeches both in the opening and closing ceremonies as a representative of the Chinese historians, an extremely “exceptional” arrangement. In his speech, he made a frank and profound expression about the ideas of Chinese historians, showing an image of Chinese Marxist historians to the world, and “won a big round of applauses”. The attendance of the 16th ICHS marked the end of the separation between Chinese history society and the International history society.

 

1990-2010s

As an official member of the International Committee of Historical Sciences, China attended the 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st ICHS as a delegation after the 16th ICHS. In the meantime, whether or not China, as a great country of long history, should bid to host the ICHS was considered.

  On 7th February 1995, the Association of Chinese Historians submitted to the State Council a report about Beijing’s bid for the 19th Congress. Twelve days later, the report was countersigned by Qian Qichen, Vice Premier of the State Council, State Councilor Li Tieying, and was also approved by Premier Li Peng. In May, the Association of Chinese Historians officially submitted to the ICHS the application report signed by the President Dai Yi and the Vice-President & Secretary-General Zhang Chunnian. China’s application received positive response and support from the leadership of ICHS. For a variety of reasons, however, the application failed by votes in the 18th ICHS in Montreal in August.

Though it failed its first bid to host the convention, China’s influence in the Congress has greatly progressed. In the 19th ICHS in Oslo, 20th in Sydney, and 21st in Amsterdam, the Congress unprecedentedly set up three consecutive special discussions themed on China. With the help of Jin Chongji, Li Wenhai, the President of the Association of Chinese Historians, China has unremittingly devoted herself to the preparations to bid for the meeting.

At the beginning of 2009, with the intervention of Zhang Haipeng, the President of the Association of Chinese Historians, the bidding work launched again. While discussing the proposal and applicationthe Association thought that if the 22nd Congress could be held in China, then Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province, along with Shandong University would be an ideal place to hold the meeting. As known to all, Shandong is the hometown of Confucius and Mencius, and is also one of the well-developed provinces in China. As for Shandong University, it is world-renowned for its humanities. When historians from abroad come to Shandong, they surely will have a better understanding of China’s history and reality. Accordingly, Confucianism and Chinese culture will have a more profound influence in the world. The idea was echoed by Shandong Universitythe Jinan municipal government and Shandong provincial government. In August 2010, the 21st ICHS in Amsterdam eventually approved the proposal that the 22nd ICHS would be held in Jinan, China, Aug. 23-29, 2015. With this milestone, China and the world had achieved an epoch-making breakthrough in the field of historical science.

The past 110 years is telling us that the world needs China, and vice versa. It should be the common pursuit for historians, both at home and abroad, to carry forward the hopes and dreams of China and those of the rest of the world through the platform of the “Olympics of historians”.

 

 

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