Background and rationale for this wiki
Conducting research and fieldwork in China and on PRC history is in a constant state of flux. Accessibility and availability of sources changes rapidly. As of September 2015, however, there has been no concerted attempt to create a central space for scholars to remain up to date with these changes and the current situation, or to easily share with others recent experiences they may have had. Starting new projects or planning research trips often feels like a game of chance for many: will an archive be open to the public? Will I find anything on the topic I'm looking for, will they let me see anything? Are there new databases, websites of sources, or other avenues I can peruse? Where can I get what I need, and if I can't get it then what should I do next or where should I go? In some unfortunate cases, the political situation in the ground in China changes so drastically in a short period of time that an archive, database, website, or other resource becomes inaccessible between the time a project is proposed and when it's funded. The goal of a wiki written and maintained by current researchers and scholars in the field is largely to help remedy these issues by providing the most up to date information possible.
In addition to these issues, it is high time that a website such as this exist. There is currently no central resource discussing how to research PRC history. Many scholars today initially learned how to research through graduate seminars that included perusing guides for researching Chinese history written by Endymion Wilkinson and Harriet T. Zurndorfer. Both of these guides continue to be useful for understanding Chinese-language historical research more broadly, but they do not include sections that pertain specifically to PRC history. Scholars of Chinese history have also used the web to access journal articles, book reviews, electronic books, library catalogs, and online databases (often through their affiliation with a specific library or university) at least since the late 1990s. These resources have all been and continue to be immensely helpful. In the 2000s, the UCSD Chinese history program created and maintained a website specifically for those studying “modern Chinese history” (roughly the late 19th century through the present) (UCSD Modern Chinese History website). This site includes, among other things, bibliographies, book reviews and essays, and general information on archival research, and is still immensely useful, but it is no longer updated despite major changes in the research landscape. At the same time, blogs became a popular tool for disseminating general information about China, such as the popular China Beat, also no longer maintained, and new websites and databases have continued to pop up. A particularly popular one is Dissertation Reviews, which began with a focus on China but that has since expanded to include many other areas. A section of that site titled Fresh from the Archives publishes short articles written by scholars currently working in the field. Most recently, a group of active historians working exclusively on the PRC have initiated prchistory.org, which includes the H-PRC listserv and a website that houses numerous extremely beneficial links. However, to date, there is no publicly available site that brings together all these resources in one place and includes timely updates. Thus, and given the flux of the current situation in PRC historical research, the goal of this wiki is to provide any registered user with the ability to modify the site in order to add pertinent information.
In the future… It is likely that at some point in the future this wiki will no longer be the best platform for delivering timely information and allowing users to update it. The admin of this site is always open to suggestions or ideas for what a future site would look like and how it would function.