The Info List - John K. Fairbank

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JOHN KING FAIRBANK (May 24, 1907 – September 14, 1991), was a prominent American academic on the history of China


* 1 Early life * 2 Early career

* 3 Chinese studies

* 3.1 Developmenr of field * 3.2 Accusations of pro-communism * 3.3 Scholarship and influence * 3.4 Accusations of US imperialism

* 4 Death

* 5 Selected works

* 5.1 Collaborative works * 5.2 Conference volumes * 5.3 Edited letters and texts

* 6 Notes * 7 Sources * 8 External links


Fairbank was born in Huron, South Dakota , in 1907. He was educated at Sioux Falls High School, Phillips Exeter Academy , the University of Wisconsin–Madison , Harvard College , and Oxford University (Balliol ). As an undergraduate, Charles Kingsley Webster , the distinguished British diplomatic historian who was then teaching at Harvard, advised him to choose a relatively-undeveloped field of study, and suggested that since the Qing dynasty 's archives were then being opened, China's foreign relations would be a prudent choice. Fairbank later admitted that he then knew nothing about China

In 1929, when he graduated from Harvard _summa cum laude _, he went to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar .

At Oxford, Fairbank began his study of the Chinese language and sought the counsel of H.B. Morse , retired from the Imperial Maritime Customs Service . On Webster's advice, he had read Morse's three-volume study of the Qing dynasty's foreign relations on the ship that was coming to England. Morse became his mentor. The ambitious young scholar decided to go to Beijing
to do research in 1932.

In Beijing, he studied at Tsinghua University under the direction of the prominent historian Tsiang Tingfu , who introduced him to the study of newly-available diplomatic sources and the perspectives of Chinese scholarship, which balanced the British approaches he saw at Oxford.

Wilma Denio Cannon, a daughter of Walter Bradford Cannon , came to China
to marry Fairbank and began a career of her own in Chinese art history. He and Wilma came to know to a number of Chinese intellectuals, and they became especially warm friends with Liang Sicheng , the son of the distinguished Chinese reformer Liang Qichao , and his wife, Lin Huiyin , whom they called Phyllis.

The Lins introduced them to Jin Yuelin , a philosopher trained at Columbia University. Fairbank wrote later that he and Wilma began to sense through them that the Chinese problem was the "necessity to winnow the past and discriminate among things foreign, what to preserve and what to borrow...."

In 1936, Oxford awarded him a D.Phil. for his thesis, which he revised and eventually published as _Trade and Diplomacy on the China Coast: The Opening of the Treaty Ports, 1842-1854_ in 1953.


Fairbank returned to Harvard in 1936 to take up a position teaching Chinese history and was its first full-time specialist at Harvard. He and Edwin O. Reischauer worked out a year-long introductory survey coveredinf China
and Japan and later Korea and Southeast Asia. The course was known as "Rice Paddies," and it became the basis for two influential texts: _East Asia: The Great Tradition_ (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1960) and _East Asia: The Modern Transformation_ (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1965).

Following the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941, Fairbank was enlisted to work for the US government , which included service in the Office of Strategic Services and the Office of War Information in Chongqing , the temporary capital of Nationalist China



When he returned to Harvard after the war, Fairbank inaugurated a master's degree program in area studies , one of several major universities in the United States to do so. That approach at Harvard was multi-disciplinary and aimed to train journalists, government officials, and others who did not want careers in academia. That broad approach, combined with Fairbank's experience in China
during the war, shaped his _United States and China_ (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, Foreign Policy Library, 1948). That survey went through new editions in 1958 and 1970, each synthesizing scholarship in the field for both students and the general public. In 1972, in preparation for Nixon
's visit, the book was read by leaders on both sides.


In the late 1940s, Fairbank was among the so-called China
Hands , who predicted the victory of Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party and advocated establishing relations with the new government. Although Fairbank argued that relations with new China
would be in the American national interest, the China
Lobby and many other Americans accused the China
Hands of selling out an ally and promoting the spread of communism and of Soviet influence; that was during an intensification of the Cold War . In 1949, Fairbank was targeted for being "soft" on Communism, and he was denied a visa to visit Japan. In 1952, he testified before the McCarran Committee , but his secure position at Harvard protected him. Ironically, many of Fairbank's Chinese friends and colleagues who returned to China
after 1949, such as Fei Xiaotong , Ch'ien Tuan-sheng, and Chen Han-seng , would later be attacked for being "pro-American," as the Chinese Communist Party became more rigidly communist. Critics in Taiwan charged that he was a tool of the Communists.


Fairbank taught at Harvard until he retired in 1977. He published a number of both academic and non-academic works on China, many of which would reach a wide audience outside academia. He also published an expanded revision of his doctoral dissertation as _Trade and Diplomacy on the China
Coast_ in 1953. One of his students, Paul Cohen , noted that the approaches or stages in the development of China
studies of the 1950s are sometimes referred to as "the Harvard 'school' of China studies."

Fairbank played a major role in developing Harvard as a leading American center for East Asian studies, including establishing the Center for East Asian Research, which was renamed to the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies after his retirement. He was its director from 1955 to 1973.

Fairbank raised money to support fellowships for graduate students, trained influential China
historians at Harvard, and placed them widely in universities and colleges in the US and overseas. He welcomed and funded researchers from all over the world to spend time in Cambridge and hosted a series of conferences, which brought scholars together and yielded publications, many of which Fairbank edited himself. He established the Harvard East Asian Series, which published monographs to enable students to publish dissertations, which was essential for achieving tenure. Fairbank and his colleagues at Harvard, Edwin O. Reischauer and Albert Craig, wrote a textbook on China
and Japan, _A History of East Asian Civilization_. Fairbank established links to figures in government both by training journalists, government officials, and foundation executives and by giving his thoughts to the government on policy on China.

In 1966, Fairbank and the Sinologist Denis C. Twitchett , then at Cambridge University , set in motion plans for _The Cambridge History of China
_. Originally intended to cover the entire history of China in six volumes, the project grew until it reached a projected 15 volumes. Twitchett and Fairbank divided the history, with Fairbank editing volumes on modern (post-1800) China, and Twitchett and others took responsibility for the period from the Qin to the early Qing dynasties. Fairbank edited and wrote parts of Volumes 10 to 15, the last of which appeared in the year after his death. Martha Henderson Coolidge and Richard Smith completed and published Fairbank's biography of H.B. Morse.


During the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, Fairbank, who had earlier been criticized as being pro-communist, came under fire from younger scholars and graduate students in the new Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars , which he had helped form but then soon ended his participation.

The younger scholars charged that Fairbank and other leaders of the area studies movement had helped to justify American imperialism in Asia. By his grounding the study of Asia in modernization theory , Fairbank and other liberal scholars presented China
as an irrational country, which needed American tutelage. Since Fairbank rejected revolution, he condoned imperialism. A further charge was that scholars of the Harvard School had put forth a "radical new version" of China's modern history that argued imperialism "was largely beneficial in China."

In December 1969, Howard Zinn and other members of the Radical Historians' Caucus attempted to persuade the American Historical Association to pass an anti- Vietnam War resolution. A later report said a "debacle unfolded as Harvard historian (and AHA president in 1968) John Fairbank literally wrestled the microphone from Zinn's hands", in what Fairbank called "our briefly-famous Struggle for the Mike."


Fairbank finished the manuscript of his final book, _China: A New History_ in the summer of 1991. On September 14, 1991 he delivered the manuscript to Harvard University Press , then returned home and suffered a fatal heart attack.


In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about John King Fairbank, OCLC / WorldCat encompasses roughly 600+ works in 1,500+ publications in 15 languages and 43,000+ library holdings. This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries.

* -- _The origin of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, 1850-58._ University of Oxford DPhil thesis, 1936. * -- _The United States and China._ Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1st ed 1948; 4th, enl. ed. 1983. * -- _Trade and Diplomacy on the China
Coast: The Opening of the Treaty Ports, 1842-1854._ 2 vols. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953. * -- "Patterns Behind the Tientsin Massacre." _Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies_ 20, no. 3/4 (1957): 480-511. * -- _Ch'ing Administration: Three Studies._ (with Têng Ssu-yü ) Harvard-Yenching Institute Studies, V. 19. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960. * -- _China: The People's Middle Kingdom and the U.S.A_ (Cambridge,MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1967). * -- _ China
Perceived; Images and Policies in Chinese-American Relations_ (New York: Knopf, 1974). * -- _Chinese-American Interactions : A Historical Summary_ (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1975). * -- _Chinabound: a fifty-year memoir. New York : Harper & Row, 1982._ * -- _The Great Chinese Revolution, 1800-1985_ (New York: Harper Second Enlarged Edition, 2006. Translated into Chinese, French, Japanese, Korean, Czech; OCLC 490612305


* John King Fairbank, Kwang-Ching Liu, _Modern China; a Bibliographical Guide to Chinese Works, 1898-1937_ (Cambridge,: Harvard University Press, 1950). * Conrad Brandt, Benjamin Isadore Schwartz John King Fairbank, eds., _A Documentary History of Chinese Communism_ (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952). * Ssu-yü Têng , John King Fairbank Chaoying Fang and others. with E-tu Zen Sun, eds., _China's Response to the West: A Documentary Survey, 1839-1923_ (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1954). * John King Fairbank, Masataka Banno, _Japanese Studies of Modern China; a Bibliographical Guide to Historical and Social-Science Research on the 19th and 20th Centuries_ (Rutland, Vt.,: Published for the Harvard-Yenching Institute by C. E. Tuttle Co., 1955). * Edwin O. Reischauer, John King Fairbank Albert M. Craig, _A History of East Asian Civilization_ (Boston,: Houghton Mifflin, 1960). * Noriko Kamachi, Ichiko Chuzo & John King Fairbank, _Japanese Studies of Modern China
since 1953: A Bibliographical Guide to Historical and Social Science Research on the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries : Supplementary Volume for 1953-1969_ (Cambridge, Mass.: East Asian Research Center, Harvard University : distributed by Harvard University Press, 1975). * Denis Twitchett New York: Cambridge University Press, 1978-). * John King Fairbank, Martha Henderson Coolidge Traditional China's Foreign Relations_ (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1968). * Frank Algerton Kierman,John King Fairbank, eds., _Chinese Ways in Warfare_ (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974). * John King Fairbank, ed., _The Missionary Enterprise in China
and America_ (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1974). * Suzanne Wilson Barnett John King Fairbank, ed., _Christianity in China: Early Protestant Missionary Writings_ (Cambridge, Mass.: Published by the Committee on American-East Asian Relations of the Dept. of History in collaboration with the Council on East Asian Studies/Harvard University : Distributed by the Harvard University Press, 1985). * Ernest R. May, John King Fairbank, eds,, _America's China
Trade in Historical Perspective: The Chinese and American Performance_ (Cambridge, Mass: Committee on American-East Asian Relations of the Department of History in collaboration with Council on East Asian Studies distributed by Harvard University Press, 1986).


* John King Fairbank, Katherine Frost Bruner, et al., _The I. G. In Peking Letters of Robert Hart , Chinese Maritime Customs, 1868-190_7 (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1975). * Katherine Frost Bruner, John King Fairbank, et al., _Entering China's Service: Robert Hart's Journals, 1854-1863_ (Cambridge, Mass.: Council on East Asian Studies Distributed by the Harvard University Press, 1986). * Richard J. Smith, John King Fairbank, et al., _Robert Hart and China's Early Modernization: His Journals, 1863-1866_ (Cambridge, Mass.: Published by the Council on East Asian Studies Distributed by the Harvard University Press, 1991).


* ^ _A_ _B_ Gonzalez, David (September 16, 1991). "John K. Fairbank, China
Scholar Of Wide Influence, Is Dead at 84". _New York Times _. Retrieved 2008-08-14. John K. Fairbank, the Harvard history professor who was widely credited with creating the field of modern Chinese studies in the United States and was a leading advocate of diplomatic recognition of the People's Republic of China, died Saturday in Cambridge, Mass. He was 84 years old. He died of a heart attack, said Roderick MacFarquhar, a colleague. * ^ John King Fairbank, _Chinabound: A Fifty-Year Memoir_ (New York: Harper London:: Columbia University Press. ISBN 023152546X . , p. 1 * ^ Suleski, Ronald Stanley. (2005). _The Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University_, pp. 11-44. * ^ Cohen, Goldman, _Fairbank Remembered_ includes many reminiscences of students and colleagues. * ^ _A History of East Asian Civilization_ infosite, openlibrary.org; accessed June 20, 2015. * ^ Richard Madsen, "The Academic China
Specialists," _American Studies of Contemporary China_ (New York: ME Sharpe, 1993): 163. * ^ Jim Peck, _The Roots of Rhetoric,_ _Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars_ 2.1 (October 1969), p. 61, reprinted in Edward Friedman and Mark Selden, (ed.),_America's Asia: Dissenting Essays on Asian-American Relations_ (New York: Random House, 1969). * ^ Esherick (1972) , p. 9. * ^ "Forty Years On: Looking Back at the 1969 Annual Meeting" by Carl Mirra in the February 2010 issue of _Perspectives on History_ published by the American Historical Association * ^ From the June 1970 AHA Newsletter "Professional Comment and Controversy: An Open Letter to Howard Zinn", historians.org; accessed June 23, 2015. * ^ WorldCat Identities Archived 2010-12-30 at the Wayback Machine .: Fairbank, John King 1907-1991 * ^ _China: A New History_ WorldCat.org


* Alesevich, Christopher. "John King Fairbank: Present at the Creation," _US- China
Today_, November 9, 2007. * Evans, Paul M. _John Fairbank and the American Understanding of Modern China._ New York: B. Blackwell, 1988. * Paul A. Cohen Merle Goldman, eds., _Fairbank Remembered_ (Cambridge, Mass.: Published by the John K. Fairbank Center for East Asian Research Harvard University : Distributed by Harvard University Press, 1992). Brief reminiscences by students, colleagues, friends, and family. * Gordon, Leonard H.D.; Chang, Sydney (1970). " John K. Fairbank and His Critics in the Republic of China
(Review Article)". _Journal of Asian Studies_. 30 (1): 137–149. * Esherick, Joseph (1972). "Harvard on China: The Apologetics of Imperialism" (PDF). _Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars_. 4 (4): 9–17. * Reins, Thomas. "Fairbank, John King", in Kelly Boyd (ed.), _Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing_ (London; Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999). pp. 375-377. * Suleski, Ronald Stanley. (2005). _The Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University: a Fifty Year History, 1955-2005._ Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 097679800X /ISBN 9780976798002 ; OCLC 64140358