Zvi Schiffrin

Prof. (Emeritus) Zvi Schiffrin

Professor Emeritus, Department of Asian Studies
zvi schiffrin

PhD 1961, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem



CV and Academic Milestones

Harold Zvi Schiffrin, the "Father of East Asian Studies in Israel" was born in the city of Rochester in New York, USA in 1922. He studied at the University of Berkeley, California, where he earned his BA and MA in Chinese Studies. In 1948, he made aliyah to Israel in the framework of Machal (overseas volunteers), and, upon receiving his Ph. D. (1961) from the Hebrew University, was the person who initiated the field of Chinese and Asian studies in Israel. In 1968 he established the Department for China and Japan Studies. This department, whose name was later changed to the East-Asian Studies Department, and later to the Asian Studies department (http://asia.huji.ac.il/), was the first of its kind in Israel, and where Prof. Schiffrin assembled the top researchers in the field and taught the next generations of Asia researchers in Israel. Prof. Schiffrin was highly active not only in teaching and researching East-Asia at the university, but also filled a series of public positions: he served as dean of the School for Overseas Students (1968-70), and for many years headed the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace (1979-87) (http://truman.huji.ac.il/), and chaired the US- Israel Educational Foundation (Fulbright Program; 1980-87). His activities both on a national and international level for the aliyah of Jews from the Soviet Union and the release of Prisoners of Zion won worldwide recognition. He also held research and teaching positions at Harvard and Berkley, and was a Guest of the Chinese Academy of Social Science, Beijing long before China and Israel established diplomatic relations. In 1990 Prof. Schiffrin retired from the Hebrew University, but he has continued to be involved in the department's life. Prof. Schiffrin’s research concerns the acute questions of the society in present-day China, and focuses on the social and intellectual background of the rise of modern China (1840-1949). He has been a world renowned expert on the 1911 revolution and on Sun Yat-sen, the father of Republican China. For his first book, Sun Yat-sen and the Origins of the Chinese Revolution (Berkley 1968, rpt. 1970, 2010) he won the John K. Fairbank Prize in East Asian History of the American Historical Association. His books were translated to Chinese in both China and Taiwan. In 2010 the National Library of China chose him to one of the leading 100 Sinologists of all times - the only Israeli to be included in this highly prestigious list.
(see http://form.nlc.gov.cn/sino/show.php?id=32)


Main Publications



Sun Yat-sen and the Origins of the Chinese Revolution. Berkeley: University of California, 1968, rpt. 2010.


Sun Yat-sen: Reluctant Revolutionary. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1980.

Edited volumes:

Military and State in Modern Asia. Jerusalem: Academic Press, 1976.


• Co-editor with Eto Shinkichi. The 1911 Revolution in China: Interpretative Essays. Tokyo: Tokyo University Press, 1984.

• Co-editor with Eto Shinkichi. China’s Republican Revolution. Tokyo: Tokyo University Press, 1995.

In Chinese:


• Schiffrin, Harold Z. [史扶邻]; Qiu Quanzheng [丘权政], Fu Zhixing [符致兴] (transl.). Sun Yat-sen and the Origins of the Chinese Revolution [Sun Zhongshan yu Zhongguo ge ming de qi yuan, 孙中山与中国革命的起源]. Beijing: Zhongguo she hui ke xue chu ban she: Xin hua shu dian Beijing fa xing suo fa xing, 1981. a. Rpt. in idem. Sun Yat-sen and the Chinese Revolution [Sun Zhongshan yu Zhongguo ge ming, 孙中山与中国革命]. Taiyuan: Shanxi ren min chu ban she, 2010, vol. 1. 

• Schiffrin, Harold Z. [史扶邻]; Qiu Quanzheng [丘权政], Fu Zhixing [符致兴] (transl.). Sun Yat-sen: Reluctant Revolutionary [Sun Zhongshan: mian wei qi nan de ge ming jia, 孙中山: 勉为其难的革命家]. Beijing: Zhongguo hua qiao chu ban she, 1996. a. Rpt. in idem. Sun Yat-sen and the Chinese Revolution [Sun Zhongshan yu Zhongguo ge ming, 孙中山与中国革命]. Taiyuan: Shanxi ren min chu ban she, 2010, vol. 2.


Selected Articles and Book Chapters:

“Sun Yat-sen’s Early Land Policy: The Origin and Meaning of ‘Equalization of Land Rights,” Journal of Asian Studies 16.4 (August 1957): 549-564. 

• with Robert A. Scalapino, “Early Socialist Current in the Chinese Revolutionary Movement: Sun Yat-sen versus Liang Ch’i-ch’ao,” Journal of Asian Studies, 18.3 (May 1959): 321-342. 

• with Pow-key Sohn, “Henry George on Two Continents: A Comparative Study in the Diffusion of Ideas,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 2 (October 1959): 85-108. 

• “The Chinese Commune – the Last Stage in Mao Tse-tung's Social Revolution,” (in Hebrew), Hamizrach Hechadash 10.4 (1960): 287-303. 

• “The ‘Great Leap’ Image in Early Chinese Nationalism,” African and Asian Studies 3 (1967): 101-119. 

• with A. Altman, “Sun Yat-sen and the Japanese, 1914-1916,” Modern Asian Studies 6.4 (October 1972): 385-400. 

• “Military and Politics in China: Is the Warlord Model Pertinent?” Asia Quarterly 3 (1975): 193-206. 

• “The Political Style of Sun Yat-sen: Tenacity of Purpose and Fluidity in Practice,” Asian Culture 9 (Winter 1981): 1-7. 

• “Sun Yat-sen and the 1911 Revolution,” (in Chinese), Shehui kexue 3 (1983): 20. 

• “Sun Yat-sen’s Legacy and China’s Challenges in the 21st Century” (in Chinese), Modern China (Taibei) 127 (October, 1998):62-74.


Articles in Larger Works

• “The Enigma of Sun Yat-sen,” in Mary C. Wright (ed.), China in Revolution: The First Phase, 1900-1913 (Yale: Yale University Press, 1968): 443-474. 

• “Sun Yat-sen’s ‘Constitution Protection Movement’ and Revolutionary Governments in South China (1917-1923),” in G.K. Kindermann (ed.), Sun Yat-Sen: Founder and Symbol of China’s Revolutionary Nation-Building(Munich: Gunter Olzog Verlag, 1982): 227-244. 

• “The Concept of War in Traditional and Modern China,” in Nissan Oren (ed.), Termination of Wars: Processes, Procedures and Aftermaths(Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1982): 102-113. 

• “The Foreign Powers and the 1911 Revolution: A Harmonious Interval during a Period of Discord,” in Eto and Schiffrin (eds.), The 1911 Revolution in China: Interpretive Essays (Tokyo: Tokyo University Press, 1984): 273-279. 

• “Totalitarianism and After in Communist Party Regimes: Comments on Richard Lowenthal’s Paper,” in Yehoshua Arieli and Nathan Rotenstreich (eds.), Totalitarian Democracy and After (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Magnes Press, 1984): 323-326. 

• “The Responses and Reaction of East Asia to its Scholarly Study by the West,” in Bernard Lewis, Edmund Leites and Margaret Case (eds.), As Others see Us: Mutual Perceptions, East and West (New York: International Society for the Comparative Study of Civilizations, 1985): 253-265. 

• “Fifty years of American Studies on Sun Yat-sen (in Chinese), in Sun Zhongshan yanjiu xuehui (eds.), Looking Back and Looking Ahead: Review of Domestic and Foreign Studies of Sun Yat-sen [Huigu yu zhanwang: guo neiwai Sun Zhongshan yanjiu shuping, 回顾与展望―国内外孙中山研究述评] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1986): 662-678. 

• “Sun Yat-sen: His Life and Times,” Chu-yuan Cheng (ed.), Sun Yat-sen’s Doctrine in the Modern World (Boulder: Westview Press, 1988): 11-51. 

• “China Today: Retreat from Mao and Return to Marx?” in Sidney Hook, William L. O’Neill and Roger O’Toole (eds.), Philosophy, History and Social Action: Essays in Honor of Lewis Feuer (Dordrecht, Boston, London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1988): 395-404. 

• “Sun Yat-sen: A leadership Model for Developing Countries,” in Symposium on the Thought of Sun Yat-sen and the Modern World (Chicago: Dr. Sun Yat-sen Institute USA and Pacific Cultural Foundation 1990): 91-113. 

• “The Impact of the War on China,” in Rotem Kowner (ed.) The Impact of the Russo-Japanese War (London: Routledge, 2007): 169-182. 

“Reflections on the Role of Intellectuals in Modernizing China,” in Raoul David Findeisen, Gad C. Isay, Amira Katz-Goehr, Yuri Pines and Lihi Yariv-Laor (eds.), At Home in Many Worlds, Reading, Writing and Translating from Chinese and Jewish Culture: Essays in Honour of Irene Eber (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 2009): 169-176.

Professor Schiffrin also wrote 50 China-related articles in Ha-Encyclopedia Ha-Ivrit (The Hebrew Encyclopedia); and various entries in Howard L. Boorman (ed.), Biographical Dictionary of Republican China (Columbia: Columbia University Press, 1967) and Martin van Creveld (ed.). Encyclopedia of Revolutions and Revolutionaries: From Anarchism to Zhou Enlai (New York: Facts on File, 1996); and a few dozen book reviews for major periodicals.

For more information about Prof. Zvi Schiffrin from Wikipedia, please click here
For Wikipedia in Hebrew, please click here


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