In May 1983, the meeting of national historical discipline for the “Sixth Five Years Plan” decided to establish a group of historical theory within the national historical discipline, in order to regulate the research of historical theory and historiography all over China. This group should be put into the charge of Institute of World History, Institute of Modern History and Institute of History, and its main purpose is to promote the study of historical theory. Soon afterwards, Institute of World History set up a group for the study of historical theory, whose task is to prepare national conferences and to publish journals in the field of historical theory.
At the beginning of 1986, according to the instruction of Hu Sheng, the president of CASS then, the group was formally adapted into the section of foreign historical theory. President Hu Sheng stated that the section’s mission is to strengthen the theoretical research of historiography. On the one hand, the section should focus on the study of historical theory abroad; while on the other hand, its research should also meet the current demand of the development of contemporary Chinese historiography. In 2010, its name was changed into Section of Historical Materialism and Foreign Historical Theory.
Since its establishment, the group (and the section in later time) has conscientiously fulfilled its duties. Nowadays, it has become the pioneer, organizer and undertaker of the national historical studies.
As the pioneer in the field, the fellows of the section have published many books and hundreds of articles on various topics. They have hosted and finished many national and CASS’ programs, either collectively or individually.
As the organizer of national historiography, the section has hosted every national symposium on historical theory ever since the first one held in 1984. So far, 18 national symposia have been hold. What is more, the section has hosted many international conferences. Some members of the section have played important roles in certain national organizations of historical study. Chen Qineng was former president of the Branch of Historical Theory, which subordinated to the Chinese Association of Historical Study; and Yu Pei is the general secretary of the branch.
In publication, from 1987-1989, the section published the academic journal, Theory of History; and since 1992, the section keeps publishing the journal of Historiography Quarterly, which is the first (and so far remains the only) professional journal in this field in China. Besides, the section has published many kinds of series on historical theory, with articles either written by Chinese scholars or translated from works of scholars abroad.
In teaching and training, since 1985, the fellows of the section host lectures in various subjects for the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and many M.A. and Ph.D students in the department of historical theory have acquired the degrees. From 2000 on, the section began to orginize Post-Doctor programs on historical theory and historiography. Several post-doctors have already finished their individual programs.
Director: Wu Ying
Vice-Director: Dong Xinjie