John K. Fairbank

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John King Fairbank (born May 24, 1907 in Huron , South Dakota , † September 14, 1991 in Cambridge , Massachusetts ) was an American historian and eminent sinologist whose research focus was on the recent history of China.

His work had a great influence on recent US and European China research. His dissertation is entitled: Trade and Diplomacy on the China Coast and was the beginning of his research on the history of the Qing Dynasty and the interactions between the Chinese world and the West. Fairbank taught at Harvard University from 1936 , where he built the Center for Modern East Asian Studies , which is now named after him. In 1954, Fairbank was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences . Since 1969 he was an elected member of the American Philosophical Society .

He focused on demographic and institutional analysis and is seen by many as a downright pessimist.

His last work in China. A new History is a summary of his lifelong studies. Two days after the manuscript was completed, John King Fairbank died of a heart attack at the age of 84.

His view of explaining the recent history of China as a pure reaction to influences from Western powers is being questioned by current research.


  • with Merle Goldman: China. A new history. Enlarged edition, 6th printing. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA 1998, ISBN 0-674-11672-0 .
  • History of Modern China. 1800-1995 (= dtv 4497). 2nd edition, 9. – 12. Thousand. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-423-04497-7 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Member History: John King Fairbank. American Philosophical Society, accessed August 3, 2018 .