L’empire terrestre. Histoire du politique en Chine aux XXe et XXIe siècles by Yves Chevrier


  • Soline Schweisguth EHESS




Chinese democracy, Chinese state, Maoism


In this two-volume opus, Yves Chevrier, who was director of “Centre Chine” at EHESS and is now professor emeritus at CESPRA (Centre d’études sociologiques et politiques Raymond Aron), seeks to shed a new light on the history of politics in twentieth China. This essay aims at understanding modern China as a “terrestrial empire” conceived as a “specific non-democratic political form, different from the late empire […] and from Mao’s totalitarianism” (29).  In the first volume, which runs from 1895 to 1976, he defines three moments in the process of construction of politics revolving around two axes: democracy and the state. The first part starts in 1895 when the political form of a world-Empire went into crisis and, according to Chevrier, started to be conceived as political. This revolution in the conception of politics ended up in the institutionalisation of democracy. The second part focuses on the period between 1915 and 1925 when, according to Yves Chevrier, a new kind of politics emerged, that of autonomous action led by activist subjects. Modern politics which was reinvented through the paradigm of the subject and a new form of democracy emerged: activist democracy. Finally, from 1926 to 1976, the originality of Maoism is found in the decentralised activist struggle unleashed in order to achieve hegemony. In this conception, Mao Zedong appears as the “Divider” creating a fragmented system of activism, breaking any monopoly by universalising action.

法國學者伊夫 · 謝弗裡耶,曾任法國高等社會科學學院現代中國研究中心主任,現為雷蒙∙阿隆社會學與政治學研究中心名譽教授。在他關於二十世紀中國政治史的兩卷著作中,為讀者展現了一個獨特視角:相較於晚期帝制和毛澤東時代,現代中國更像一個以特殊非民主方式運作的“疆域大國”。该著作的第一卷覆盖1895-1976年时段,以民主与国家为核心,分析了三个主要的政治构建时期:1895年起,世界帝國政治形態的危機導致對政治的重新定義,推動了民主的制度化;在接下來的1915至1925年,新的政治理念強調主體的積極性,催生了“積極民主”;最後在1926至1976年,毛澤東以其“分裂者”的策略,通過廣泛的群眾鬥爭來消解傳統權威,進而穩固其政治地位。


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Karl, Rebecca. 2020. China’s Revolutions in the Modern World: A Brief Interpretive History. Brook-lyn: Verso Books.




How to Cite

Schweisguth, S. (2023). L’empire terrestre. Histoire du politique en Chine aux XXe et XXIe siècles by Yves Chevrier. The Journal of the European Association for Chinese Studies, 4, 315–318. https://doi.org/10.25365/jeacs.2023.4.schweisguth



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