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Owen Lattimore the Political geography of Asia

Cotton, James Stephen (1987) Owen Lattimore the Political geography of Asia. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Owen Lattimore's earliest interest was in trade and colonisation in the frontier regions of China. This Interest led him to work on the history and contemporary condition of the nomadic frontier peoples, especially the Mongols, Lattimore rejecting the environmental determinism of Ellsworth Huntington and Arnold Toynbee in favour of a depiction of pastoral nomadism which stressed the role in its evolution of choice and invention within geographical parameters. Under the influence of the ideas of Oswald Spengler, and concerned with the difficult predicament of the Mongols, Lattimore became convinced of the inability of either Mongol or Chinese civilisation to survive without fundamental social renovation. In his historical work on nomadic-Chinese interactions he stressed the lack of integration between these peoples, relying largely upon the ideas of Karl Vittfogel for his account of the cyclic nature of the history of traditional China. During the Second World War Lattimore's appointment as adviser to Chiang Kai-shek led him to contemplate both the likely course of reform in China, and the future role of the United States in Asia, Disillusioned with Chiang by 1947,Lattimore grew increasingly critical of US failure to adjust policy to recognise the rise of nationalism in Asia and the emergence there and elsewhere of a "Third World" of nations outside the two ideological blocks. After the ordeal imposed upon him as a result of Senator McCarthy's charges that he had been a Soviet spy, Lattimore returned to work on the history of world frontiers, and on China and Mongolia. He now regarded the communists as having carried through the revolutionary changes in China that the Kuomintang had evaded; from 1962 he came to identify the national aspirations of the Mongol people with the Mongolian People's Republic, the policies of which could no longer be understood as those of a Soviet "satellite”. Throughout his career his attachment to the Mongols has been the chief influence on his work.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1987
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Feb 2013 13:45

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