The First Generation of Architectural Historians in Modern China: Their Studies and Struggles

Shanshan Liu

Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture

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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 13 Issue 1  (2024):59-79 DOI 10.38145/2024.1.59

This paper examines the intellectual history of the first generation of architectural historians in China, with a focus on the activities of Liang Sicheng and his colleagues from the 1920s to the 1950s. It analyzes the various oppressive forces they encountered during this period. Initially, they challenged Western and Japanese hegemonies in Chinese architecture research. Following World War II, they faced off against Soviet Union experts to safeguard China’s architectural heritage. The paper evaluates their successes and failures in achieving academic and social goals, their impact on the preservation of Chinese heritage, and their ongoing influence in academic and societal spheres. Additionally, it explores how professional ethics were utilized to dismantle colonial narratives and perceptions in China, suggesting that professionalism can serve as a mode of intellectual opposition.

Keywords: Modern China, intellectual history, architectural historian, Liang Sicheng

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