Archival Research in China

https://warontherocks.com/2020/01/archival-research-in-china-where-theres-a-will-theres-a-way/

I wrapped up my fieldwork with three takeaways. First, archival research in China is not as bad as it is often depicted by outsiders. To be sure, historians who want to describe Cold War-era events in excruciating details relying on massive archival documentation are gearing up for a tough fight that is nearly impossible to win. Political scientists who do structured, focused comparisons of case studies might have better chances of success. Second, Chinese archives are strict but fair: The same rules apply to Chinese citizens as to foreigners. Third, Chinese archivists are generally helpful if you play within the rules. If you have bad luck and they do not let you see the documents you want, do not throw a tantrum. Move on to the next one, that might work out. Finally, something I found odd was that not all of these institutions are used to hosting researchers for an extended period of time. At one municipal archive, staff wondered what was taking me so long — I had been there for two hours. In the beginning of the third week of my research at another archive, the personnel greeted me with the question: “Aren’t you done yet?”


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