Prof. Kenneth POMERANZ

When China opened up to the world at the end of the 1970s, scholars worldwide began to focus on her role in the future and anticipate how this country was going to emerge as a global economic power. Prof. Kenneth POMERANZ, however, turned to look into China’s past, trying to trace the long-running patterns of economic development, environmental change, state formation, and social structure in China – particularly rural China.

Trained and practiced as a historian all his life, Prof. Pomeranz’ passion for Chinese history was developed by coincidence when he randomly enrolled in a Chinese history course at Cornell University, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in history in 1980. He was inspired by the lectures of a professor who gave him 15 books on China to read over the summer before letting him decide if he would still be interested in the subject. This led to a PhD at Yale University in 1988, where he studied under the pre-eminent historian Jonathan SPENCE. He spent the 1985–86 school year in China, half of it in Jinan, Shandong Province. This series of unplanned events paved the way for him to study the reciprocal influences of state, society and economy in late Imperial and 20th-century China.

Prof. Pomeranz spent the first 24 years of his career teaching at the University of California, Irvine before joining the University of Chicago as University Professor of Modern Chinese History in 2012, making him the 18th person ever to hold a University Professorship title there.

Prof. Pomeranz’s work goes far beyond history and intersects a number of different fields, such as economics, political science, sociology, and environmental studies. His seminal book The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy, which is a comparative history of China and Europe circa 1800, redefined how scholars explain the rise of industrial Europe compared to that of China. The work fundamentally altered the nature of the discussion concerning global history, economic development, and the nature of historical change.

This thought-provoking book, published in 2000, was highly praised by reviewers as “a tour de force” and “so rich that fresh insights emerge from virtually every page”. It won the 2001 John K. Fairbank Prize of the American Historical Association, one of the most important honors for a scholar of Asian studies, and was a co-winner of the 2001 World History Association Book Prize. The French School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences also selected the book as one of the top 40 books of the last 40 years.

Prof. Pomeranz’s first book, Making a Hinterland: State, Society and Economy in Inland North China, 1853-1937, also received the John K. Fairbank Prize in 1994, making him the only two-time winner in the 44-year history of the Prize.

Early this year, Prof. Pomeranz has been awarded the prestigious Dan David Prize for his studies of macro history focusing on East Asia, acknowledging the value of taking a broad view of historical period or events and demonstrating that he has a gift for comparing economic structures and processes over long stretches of time and space.

In addition to receiving numerous book prizes, Prof. Pomeranz has also received many honors and fellowships. He is a corresponding fellow of the British Academy and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, American Council of Learned Societies, the Institute for Advanced Studies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, just to name a few.

In addition to his extensive research in history, Prof. Pomeranz is dedicated to editing books and brings pedagogical attention to his editorial work. He was a founding editor of The Journal of Global History, and has served on the editorial boards of both the University of California Press and the University of Chicago Press, and a number of journal editorial boards. Editors know him for his unusually detailed reviews where, as in intellectual discussions, Prof. Pomeranz focuses on the ideas at hand and on strengthening and improving them.

Prof. Pomeranz’s profound knowledge in history has benefited HKUST, especially the School of Humanities and Social Science (SHSS). Prof. Pomeranz co-published special journal issues as well as conference collected papers with SHSS faculty such as Cameron CAMPBELL and James LEE. His many involvements with HKUST include having served on the advisory committee of SHSS and as a senior reader for SHSS’ junior faculty in 2010. He also participated in the HKUST 20th Anniversary Lecture Series in 2011.

Council Chairman, on behalf of the Council of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, I have the high honor of presenting to you, Prof. Kenneth Pomeranz, University Professor of Modern Chinese History at the University of Chicago, for the award of Doctor of Humanities honoris causa, for his unique insight into world history and being at the forefront of seeking to go beyond world systems to think more synthetically about global phenomena. We are also deeply grateful to his contributions to teaching and working together with the faculty of HKUST and other universities around the world.

中國於1970年代末改革開放之初,全球學者莫不聚焦神州未來,預測其蛻變為世界經濟強國的走勢。在一片向前看的洪流中,彭慕蘭教授卻選擇推本溯源,嘗試從經濟發展、環境變遷、國家形構及社會結構方面探索中國 — 尤其是農村地區由來已久的發展模式。

彭教授終生醉心研究史學。他1980年畢業於美國康奈爾大學,取得歷史學學士學位。修業期間,他無心插柳下選修了一個中國歷史課程,對此科目的濃厚興趣油然而生。任教該課程的教授給了他15 本有關中國的書籍,囑咐小伙子善用暑假先行細讀,弄清自己的真正志趣,才決定是否潛心研究中國歷史。真心喜愛歷史的他其後入讀耶魯大學進修,師承歷史學大師史景遷教授。他於1985至86學年前往中國,當中一半時間留居山東濟南,最終於1988年獲授博士學位。這些歷練為他奠定良好根基,有助其日後研究中國在晚清和二十世紀時期,國家、社會及經濟三者如何相互影響。

彭教授的教學生涯裡,首24年都是在加州大學爾灣分校度過;2012年,他以中國現代史大學教授的身份加入芝加哥大學,成為該校歷來第18位享有大學教授榮譽的學者。

彭教授的著作超越歷史學範疇,與經濟、政治科學、社會學、環境學等領域縱橫交織。其劃時代巨著《大分流:中國、歐洲與現代世界經濟的形成》,比較19世紀的中國與歐洲歷史,提出創新理論,解釋歐洲如何因工業革命崛起而領先中國,徹底改變學術界對全球歷史、經濟發展與歷史變革性質的討論方向。

此書發人深省,在2000年面世後好評如潮,被譽為「空前巨著」及「真知灼見、俯拾皆是」,並於 2001 年獲美國歷史學會頒發「費正清獎」,一舉摘下亞洲研究領域裡其中一項最重要的學術榮譽,同年亦榮膺「世界歷史學會圖書獎」。另外,法國社會科學高等學院亦將此書評為近40年來最傑出的40本佳作之一。

事實上,彭教授早於1994年已憑初試啼聲之作《腹地的構建:一八五三至一九三七年華北鄉村的國家、社會與經濟》勇奪「費正清獎」,成為該獎創立44載以來唯一梅開二度的得主。

今年初,彭教授再憑研究東亞宏觀歷史榮獲「丹。大衛獎 」,既充分證明宏觀史學的價值,亦肯定了他擅長比較歷史長河裡不同經濟結構及發展的過人才華。

除了著作屢奪殊榮,彭教授本人亦譽滿寰中:他不僅是英國國家學術院外籍院士及美國人文與科學院院士,更先後獲古根漢基金會、美國哲學會、美國學術團體聯合會、普林斯頓高等研究院、美國國家人文基金會等頒發研究獎金。

彭教授勤於史學研究,亦不忘編務,以嚴謹的教學精神貫徹其編輯工作。他是《環球歷史學報》創刊編輯,曾任加州大學出版社、芝加哥大學出版社及多家學術期刊的編務委員,一如其學術研討工作,以觀察入微、細緻詳盡的審核風格見稱,他既著重原有概念,亦用心將之強化並改善。

彭教授學識淵博,對香港科技大學、尤其是人文社會科學學院裨益匪淺。他多次與康文林教授、李中清講座教授等人文社科院學者在學術特刊及研討會發表合著文章,亦曾於2010年擔任該院諮詢委員會委員及校外評審顧問,指導後輩學者,並參與2011年「科大20周年傑出學人講座系列」。

彭教授對世界歷史識見獨到,致力突破既有框框,以更廣闊的角度審視全球現象。他與科大及多國的大學學者緊密合作,盡心盡力培育後進,我們對此深表感激。校董會主席,本人謹代表香港科技大學校董會,恭請閣下頒授人文學榮譽博士予芝加哥大學中國現代史大學教授彭慕蘭教授。