Philip A. Kuhn

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Philip A. Kuhn
Born September 9, 1933
Citizenship United States American
Nationality United States American
Fields Qing history
Overseas Chinese history
Institutions University of Chicago
Harvard University
Alma mater Harvard University
Georgetown University
Doctoral advisor John King Fairbank
Doctoral students Timothy Brook, Prasenjit Duara, William C. Kirby, Hans van de Ven, Arthur Waldron

Philip A. Kuhn (Chinese name: simplified Chinese: 孔飞力, 孔复礼; traditional Chinese: 孔飛力, 孔復禮; pinyin: Kǒng Fēilì, born September 9, 1933) is an American academic, sinologist and the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Emeritus, at Harvard University.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Kuhn is the elder son of Ferdinand and Delia Kuhn, to whom he dedicated his first book. Ferdinand Kuhn, Jr. had been bureau chief of the London Office of the New York Times and later served at the Washington Post. Delia Kuhn was a writer who served as information director of the Office of Community War Services during World War II.[2]

Kuhn attended Woodrow Wilson High School and then received his A.B. from Harvard College. Later he received his M.A. from Georgetown University, and Ph.D. in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard University, where his dissertation advisor was John K. Fairbank. He enlisted in the United States Army, serving from 1955–1958. He married Sally Cheng (程吾) in the 1960s and had one son, Anthony Kuhn, the American journalist and current NPR correspondent.[3] bad link That marriage dissolved in 1980. He also had a daughter, Deborah W. Kuhn, with his second and now former wife Mary L. Smith. source?

Academic career[edit]

Kuhn taught at the University of Chicago from 1963 to 1978[1] where he attained the rank of Associate Professor in the Department of History. While at Chicago, Kuhn published in 1970 Rebellion and its Enemies in Late Imperial China: Militarization and Social Structure, 1796-1864 as part of the Harvard East Asian monograph series, which led to his being granted tenure and a full professorship.

In 1978 Kuhn returned to Harvard, where he succeeded his mentor John King Fairbank.[4]

In 1980-1986, Kuhn served as director of the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.[5]

Impact and evaluations[edit]

A pioneer of social history in Chinese history, Kuhn also helped re-evaluate the "impact-response" school of Western scholarship on China associated with his mentor, John Fairbank. Frederic Wakeman in a review of Soulstealers in The New York Review of Books described Kuhn as "one of the West's premier China historians."[6]

In his influential analysis of how American historians have studied China, Paul A. Cohen says that Rebellion and Its Enemies is a "landmark study" which begins to modify the line of interpretation which sees China's modernization as brought from outside China and outside Chinese tradition and that Kuhn instead addresses the nature of change taking place before the coming of the West. His question is "what was happening in eighteenth century China?"[7]

Kuhn's students hold professorships at universities in Asia, North America, and Europe. Among the most prominent are: Prasenjit Duara, formerly at University of Chicago, now the National University of Singapore; Timothy Brook, the Principal of St. John's College at University of British Columbia; Man-houng Lin, first female president of Academia Historica and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica; Cynthia Brokaw, Professor of History, Brown University; Timothy Cheek, Louis Cha Chair in Chinese Research and Director, Centre for Chinese Research at University of British Columbia; William C. Kirby, the former Dean of the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences; Hans van de Ven, head of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge; and Karl Gerth, Professor of History and Hwei-Chih and Julia Hsiu Endowed Chair in Chinese Studies at UC San Diego.

Selected works[edit]

In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about Philip Kuhn, OCLC/WorldCat encompasses roughly 30+ works in 90+ publications in 7 languages and 2,900+ library holdings.[8] Kuhn published numerous articles and five books, as well as chapters in Cambridge History of China.

  • —— (1970), "The Taiping Rebellion", in Fairbank, John K., ed, Cambridge History of China, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ Press, pp. 264–350 
  • —— (1970). Rebellion and Its Enemies in Late Imperial China; Militarization and Social Structure, 1796-1864. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674749510.  ,Chinese:中华帝国晚期的叛乱及其敌人: 1796-1864年的军事化与社会結构)
  • ——; Mann, Susan (1978), "Dynastic Decline and the Roots of Rebellion", in Fairbank, John King, Cambridge History of China 10, Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, pp. 107–162 
  • Introduction to Chʻing Documents (1986)
  • '—— (1990). Soulstealers: The Chinese Sorcery Scare of 1768. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674821513. . Winner of the 1990 Joseph Levenson Prize of the Association for Asian Studies.
  • National Polity and Local Power: The Transformation of Late Imperial China (1990), with Timothy Brook and Min Tu-ki
  • "The Homeland: Thinking About the History of Chinese Overseas" The Fifty-eighth George Ernest Morrison Lecture in Ethnology 1997.
  • —— (2002). Origins of the Modern Chinese State. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804742839. 
  • 叫魂:1768年的中国妖术大恐慌 (2000)
  • Kuhn, Philip A. (2008). Chinese among Others : Emigration in Modern Times. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. ISBN 9780742510708. 


  1. ^ a b Harvard University Extension School, Philip A. Kuhn; retrieved 2011-05-09,
  2. ^ "Delia W. Kuhn, Writer, 86," New York Times (US). December 19, 1989; retrieved 2011-05-09.
  3. ^ "Asian History Carnival #14 (Straight Outta Beijing...)," Jottings from the Granite Studio (blog), May 15, 2007; retrieved 2011-05-09.
  4. ^ Hays, Laurie. "Kuhn to Teach China Courses Next Year," Harvard Crimson (US). April 5, 1978; retrieved 2011-05-09.
  5. ^ Suleski, Ronald Stanley. (2005). The Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University, p. 75.
  6. ^ Wakeman, Frederic. "That Old Chinese Black Magic," New York Review of Books (US). May 16, 1991; retrieved 2011-05-09.
  7. ^ Cohen, Paul A. (2010). Discovering History in China: American Historical Writing on the Recent Chinese Past. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231151924. , pp. 68-69
  8. ^ WorldCat Identities: Kuhn, Philip A.


  • 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 9780976798002; OCLC 64140358