This article situates the Pearl River delta market town of Jiujiang within a system of market towns and cities along the West River and its tributaries in southern China. Exploring the history of this town as an emigrant community, this article follows the upstream movement of officials, civil service examinees, merchants, and permanent settlers along the West River basin between the sixteenth century and the nineteenth century. The trajectory of migration from this market town was shaped by the geographical factors of the West River system. At the same time, migration, which was related both to strategies that Jiujiang families embraced for socioeconomic advancement and to policies that the Ming and Qing states adopted for controlling the southwestern frontier, played an important role in the historical construction of a unified region linked by economic ties and personal networks.
In the study of the origin of Chinese civilization, there has been considerable debate about the identity of the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi). There have been two main approaches: One proposes that the memory of the Yellow Emperor was altered under the influence of nationalism in the twentieth century. The other argues that the memory has been passed down in a continuous, unaltered stream since ancient times. By examining the narratives about and images of Huangdi in history textbooks published during the early twentieth century, this article shifts the focus from Huangdi as a symbolic figure in the political world to one in which we examine his reception in the everyday world. Thus we will explore different Huangdis, taking up aspects of memory, continuity, and discontinuity.
The rhetoric of popular political participation filled Republican China’s newspapers, periodicals, and books throughout the 1910s and 1920s. The vocabulary, however, masked a different reality: the monopolization of political life by elites, well-organized political parties, and various kinds of activists. Through a three-part analysis of counterfeit legitimacy in early twentieth-century print media—the widespread use of the word “citizen,” the seeming pervasiveness of civil society associations, and the periodic scheduling of elections—this article exposes the manner in which democratic-sounding rhetoric was manipulated for political gain. Chinese political culture in this era could be characterized as a culture of “misrepresentation” in which politically savvy individuals and groups deliberately cloaked themselves with misleading rhetoric. A recognition of this “usurpation of popular politics” should inform any scholarly attempts to locate a “civil society” or a “public sphere” in early twentieth century China.
China saw a rise of mass party politics in the early 1920s. Different from previous parties which primarily appealed to the elites, the newly emergent parties wished to invoke wide popular support and to organize the people into a disciplined political organization in order to win national power. Current scholarship on China’s political construction during the Republican era particularly focuses on the Communist Party and the reorganized Nationalist Party in this context. Yet, China was far from integrated in this era, and we must recognize this particular focus blinds us to the diversity of visions and attempts of various political actors for the construction of the new Chinese nation-state. This paper examines the Chinese Youth Party’s activities in Sichuan between 1926 and 1937. Through its appeals to the students and teachers in educational circles, its actions with local gentry, and its quests for local warlords’ support, this paper highlights the Youth Party’s successful local operations that outstripped both the Nationalist and Communist parties in Sichuan in this period. In the distinctive sociopolitical environment of Sichuan, the Youth Party helps us understand the multiplicity of China’s political construction during the Republican era.
This study examines some social consequences of food rationing and economic reforms in Shanghai by considering the notion of “Shanghai little men” (a broader translation of which is “Shanghai less-than-manly men”). Male Shanghainese are notorious for doing household labor and being obedient to their wives, which has earned them the nickname Shanghai little men. This study indicates that their grocery shopping and cooking were first inspired by fundamental changes in food distribution and the power structure during the 1950s and 1960s. It treats Shanghai little men as both a special group and a symbol of certain changes in gender roles at home and the redefining of gender norms in the larger society. It examines the shifting discourse concerning Shanghai little men in the era of economic reforms and analyzes a recent popular discourse about “seeking real men” and “being real women.” Finally, it deconstructs the current cultural nostalgia for traditional gender-defined divisions of labor, reflecting a parallel developmen—the “transnational business masculinity” that one sees in China.