New Qing History and Pamela Crossley — message to the readers of this blog

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Dear readers,

This blog actually isn’t a blog. It was meant to be one, but then the painful realities of modern academe with its constant maelstream of administration and heavy teaching loads prevented me from doing more than posting texts from the Chinese-speaking world related to the aim of the blog. I actually never got around to do what I originally had in mind, that is commenting on these texts. Hence the aim as it is now is limited to documenting Chinese debates on what history is, how to write it and how to interpret Chinese history in particular. In principle, I am not interested in texts dealing with particular events in the past, however, from time to time even texts of this type are posted, but only if the event discussed is central to competing Chinese master-narratives.

In posting I refrain from commenting on or highlighting specific parts of the texts, at times I structure the texts copied mostly from the internet by adding lines between text and headlines or by other purely formal changes to the layout to make it more readable. The original site (URL) from which the text is copied is always mentioned. The texts posted are not selected because I happen to like or dislike the position expressed in them, but because they throw light on Chinese debates on what history is or should be. When covering whole debates such as the current exchange of opinions on New Qing History I try my best to cover all sides. I can’t guarantee that I do not at times overlook some contributions, but if that happens it is not a deliberate omission. The blog (based on wordpress) is linked to my twitter, google+ and facebook accounts. Here too nothing is commented on or highlighted, because wordpress does nothing else but automatically forwarding the blog postings to these social media to ensure wide coverage.

 

In the context of a recent exchange of opinions on MCLC concerning a book Viren Murthy and I edited, an exchange which was triggered by a review written by Joshua Fogel, Pamela Crossely, one of the Qing historians criticized in this debate on New Qing History, expressed her views on this exchange. Here she makes the following unjustified, unfair and actually insulting claims, inserted into her views on the exchange between Fogel and Murthy/Schneider, but in fact unrelated to the book the discussion originally was about. For the original see here (MCLC) and here (Crossley’s blog), fifth paragraph on MCLC:

 

As for hatchet jobs, I have a little idea what they are, having recently had one slice into me from the hands of Professor Zhong Han under the encouragement of CASS. A very small number of individuals have been busy in the social media making sure that this screed is circulated as widely and as often as possible; let us assume that it never crossed their minds that they were doing the work of the PRC academic commissars for them. One of these people is actually called Axel Schneider; he not only gleefully tweets and retweets, but makes a point of prominently displaying passages he particularly relishes. By a small irony, they relate precisely to questions of incidental errors (an allegation that Axel is unlikely to know is justified or not) of the sort the Axel says don’t matter in his book (and i do agree), but justify repeated amplification when directed against me. I don’t know Axel and he doesn’t know me, but I regret to say that he has given me the sense that ad hominem –or in this case ad feminam– attacks are something he finds very entertaining when perpetrated at the expense of somebody else, even (or especially) when relating to subjects he evidently knows very little about. [note: Tweets can be made to disappear by their author, and I expect these will, but they remain in timelines, out-quotes from Twitter, and searchable Twitter archives.] So being acquainted with actual hatchet jobs and their celebration by colleagues who so far as I know I have never harmed, I will probably betray some skepticism regarding whether a reasoned, evidentiary-based review of a whole book is actually a hatchet job.

 

Here is the link to the original posting she is referring to.

(A) From this posting it is obvious that I have not highlighted anything except the headings. The posting appears once on wordpress and once on my twitter, google+ and facebook accounts, here too just in its original form, no comments, no highlighting. It is clear that Crossley’s claim — referring to  me — that “he not only gleefully tweets and retweets, but makes a point of prominently displaying passages he particularly relishes” simply is counterfactual.

(B) Anybody who visits my blog and bothers to search just once for “New Qing History” will find out that I have posted many texts related to this debate representing various positions on this question. I have not singled out anybody or any specific position within this debate. As the blog is about Chinese debates on history, there is no reason to exclude certain publications just because I, or Pamela Crossley for that matter, happen to dislike them. Posting them does not amount to endorsing them nor does it amount to not endorsing them — endorsement just isn’t the issue. Hence Crossley’s remark “let us assume that it never crossed their minds that they were doing the work of the PRC academic commissars for them. One of these people is actually called Axel Schneider” is off the point, in fact it is a flabbergasting insult.

(C) Crossley seems to assume that somebody of Chinese background criticizing her research is doing the work of PRC academic commissars. Whether that’s the case here I do not know and in fact I do not care as far as the decision of whether or not I post a text is concerned, simply because the position of a PRC academic commissar is as much part of the debates in China on history — in fact a powerful part — as the position of anybody else, hence it deserves to be documented and eventually analyzed and discussed. Is Pamela Crossley or anybody else for that matter so sacrosanct that people like me interested in how history in China is being conceptualized can not post these texts (and the replies and counter-replies etc.)?

(D) She concludes this paragraph with the sentence “I regret to say that he [referring to me] has given me the sense that ad hominem –or in this case ad feminam– attacks are something he finds very entertaining when perpetrated at the expense of somebody else, even (or especially) when relating to subjects he evidently knows very little about”.

 

Crossley does not know me, we never met. I do not know how she knows what I know and what not. I also do not know how she comes to the conclusion what kind of person I am. However, let me conclude by expressing my indignation about this remark. Who does Crossley think she is?

 

As academic debates are based on the principles of freedom of expression and of evidence-based and theoretically informed argumentation, I invite all the readers of this blog, all those who are interested in the nature of academe in general and the nature of Chinese concepts of history and historiography in particular to join the discussion, be it by adding comments to this posting, be it by joining the debate on MCLC.

Kind regards,

Axel Schneider

One thought on “New Qing History and Pamela Crossley — message to the readers of this blog

    ahbsch responded:
    June 6, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    For those interested in Pamela Crossley’s reply, please have a look at http://www.dartmouth.edu/~crossley/comment.shtml

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