Find us at our new address

Dissertation Reviews has expanded to feature research in a variety of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences (with more 10 new fields debuting in 2012-13). Please find us at www.dissertationreviews.org

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Balancing Rites and Rights: The Social and Cultural Politics of New-Style Weddings in Republican Shanghai, 1898-1953 (by CHARLOTTE LUCIA COWDEN)

[To read this review on the new Dissertation Reviews website, click here]

In her dissertation, Charlotte Cowden traces the evolution of new-style weddings between the last decade of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and the first years of Communist rule. A new-style wedding may vary in form, but to Cowden, it has to involve free choice of one’s own spouse and elimination of a dowry.  She places the introduction, popularization and codification of new-style weddings in the context of China’s struggle for modernity, considering the roles of Republican policies, market forces and popular Continue reading

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Contending States and Religious Orders in North China and in East Asian Context, 906-1260 (By JESSE D. SLOANE)

[NoteTo read this review on the new Dissertation Reviews site, click here]

Thoroughly reexamining the religious policies and administrations of the Liao, Northern Song, and Jin states, Contending States and Religious Orders in North China and in East Asian Context, 906-1260 successfully provides us with a whole new understanding of the history of the “conquest dynasties” and North China from the 10th to 13th centuries. The religious policies of the “conquest dynasties” have long been considered as manifestations of the excessive religious devotion of their individual ruling houses. Jesse Sloane looks at the religious policies as historically related and successive phenomena beyond the question of dynasties changes. He then goes on to demonstrate that those policies were all deeply influenced by religious trends in northern Chinese society during the same period.

This dissertation is divided into seven chapters. After the introductory chapter one, chapter two examines the adoption and development of religious policies during the early years of the Liao and Song states. Through a careful, elaborate analysis of the context of the relevant materials, the author reveals that Buddhism and Confucianism did not necessarily have a significant influence over the Khitan Court, even as source materials indicate that early qaγans occasionally protected and patronized them. At the same time, the Song state postured itself as a successor to the Tang state in translating and printing Buddhist scriptures and, soon after it was founded, resumed an endeavor that would result in creating a Buddhist canon capable of mass replication and distribution.

Chapter three discusses the changing self-recognition of the Liao and Song states by examining their religious policies through the mid-11th century. After establishing its military hegemony in East Asia, the Liao monarchs turned their attention to the imperial patronage of enduring projects of the Buddhist clergy, such as the printing and publishing of Buddhist scripture. On the other hand, the emergence of Daoism and Confucianism complicated the religious policies of the Song dynasty. Based on the stone inscriptions, chapter four first looks at the rise of lay activism in the southern fringe of the Liao realm, and then discusses how the Liao monarchs, adopting the precedents of the Song emperors, vigorously expanded their patronage over the publication of canons and the establishment of temples and pagodas. In the contemporary Song dynasty, while relinquishing its superior position vis-a-vis the question of Buddhist textual authority, and abandoning the publishing of Buddhist scripture, the state strengthened and further systematized administration over religious orders, eventually resulting in Huizong’s 徽宗 ambitious endeavor to establish a Daoist monarchy. Within this process, the author finds a dominant trend toward separating religious elements from foreign policies and using them domestically, while the flow of Buddhist texts and scriptures became more and more active between Liao, Song, Koryŏ, and Japan.

Chapter five denies the received perception of Jin imperial religious policies, namely that their “tribal” and “nomadic” elements inherited from the Liao predecessors were later, though attempts to revive “Jurchen traditional culture,” assimilated to “Chinese” and “Confucian” norms. Instead, the author shows that steady continuity is found in the religious policies of the Jin. It is demonstrated empirically that, from the earliest to the closing years of the Jin period, although each emperor had different preferences in regards to religious practice, the state consistently supported, recognized, and acknowledged the cult of Confucius, Buddhist organizations, and the new and rising Daoist sects. The author argues that this conspicuously proves that the Jin dynasty was quite thoughtful in answering the religious expectations of its subjects. Following this conclusion, chapter six analyzes the Jin state’s regulation and imperial patronage of Buddhist and Daoist orders. The author demonstrates that, when facing religious activism in local society, the goal of the Jin’s religious policies and imperial patronage was in many cases to balance and mediate between religious orders. To achieve this goal, the Jin state adopted the religious administration system of the preceding Liao and Song states.

Chapter seven provides us a summary of the dissertation’s many insights. It argues that, when considering questions of social and religious continuity and transition, the compartmentalization of the Liao and Jin into separate “conquest dynasties,” as well as the maintenance of disciplinary division between the Song and its others, only hinders our understanding of the history of North China during the 10th to 13th centuries. Instead, by taking “religion” as an administrative concept, it should be understood that there was a systematic continuity and mutual influence in the religious policies of the monarchs of the Liao, Song, and Jin states. At the same time, the religious patronage and self-recognition of each of the monarchies in most cases is not understood as the manifestation of “autocracy” of a particular “foreign” monarch or ruling house who was predisposed to revere the Buddhist clergy, but as one part of the ongoing efforts by monarchs to better control religious orders in their realms. In addition, Sloane also calls attention to the significance of the religious policies to inter-state relations. The flow of Buddhist canons, scriptures, and monks illustrates the types of inter-state relations the dynasties normally eschewed during the 11th and 12th centuries.

Over the past three decades, dozens of important works on the social history of the middle to late imperial Chinese periods have been published – and in most cases they focus exclusively on the South. Recently, a collaborative effort resulted in the publication of Paul Jacov Smith and Richard von Glahn, eds., The Song-Yuan-Ming Transition in Chinese History, Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2003, which added great depth to our understanding of the social continuity and discontinuity in the South from the middle to the late imperial period. In this path breaking dissertation, Sloane’s greatest contribution is his juxtaposition of “northern Chinese society” and its well-studied southern counterpart. The most striking success of this dissertation lies in the way it breaks down the dynastic compartmentalization by demonstrating the continuity of dynastic policies and the religious practices in society. By doing so it illustrates a decompartmentalized perception of northern Chinese history, which will form a solid academic foundation for the further development of the historiography of the middle and late imperial periods.

Tomoyasu IIYAMA (飯山知保)
Assistant Professor
Waseda University
t-yama@aoni.waseda.jp

Primary Sources

Liao Shi (1974)
Jin Shi (1975)
Zhonghua da zang jing (1984)
Liao-Jin-Yuan shike wenxian quanbian (2003)

Dissertation Information

Princeton University. 2010. 430pp. Advisor: Benjamin A. Elman.

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Searching for the Self: Zhang Shizhao and Chinese Narratives (1903-1927) (by YE BIN).

[NoteTo read this review on the new Dissertation Reviews site, click here]

Where do nation, modernity, and tradition intersect?  This is the question that frames Ye Bin’s beautifully crafted dissertation about the “Chinese quest for a new political and ethical order” in the first decades of the twentieth century (p. 1).  Ye returns to what Benjamin Schwartz called “the ubiquitous dilemma of modern nationalism,” the tension between the drive to follow seemingly universal paths to progress and the desire to preserve national, cultural identity (p. 219).  Born in 1881 to a wealthy landowner on the Continue reading

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Chasing Snails: Anti-Schistosomiasis Campaigns in the People’s Republic of China (by MIRIAM GROSS)

[NoteTo read this review on the new Dissertation Reviews site, click here]

At the heart of Miriam Gross’ investigation there lies a curious paradox concerning the relationship between the practice and the collective memory of mass mobilizations in China during the 1950s and 1960s. Gross focuses exclusively upon the anti-schistosomiasis campaigns, but her analysis and conclusions will shape how we understand other public health campaigns from that same period. The PRC’s anti- Continue reading

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The China Problem in Postwar Japan: Japanese Nationalism and Sino-Japanese Relations, 1971-1980, by ROBERT JAMES HOPPENS.

Today on the new Dissertation Reviews site: Eric C. Han reviews “The China Problem in Postwar Japan: Japanese Nationalism and Sino-Japanese Relations, 1971-1980,” by ROBERT JAMES HOPPENS.

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Tianjin Municipal Archives

[NoteTo read this review on the new Dissertation Reviews site, click here]

During the summer of 2011, I spent one month at the Tianjin Municipal Archives. This was my third visit to the archives. I also used the archives during the summer of 2005 and during the 2006-07 academic year. The archive is located in Tianjin’s Nankai district at 11 Fukang Lu (and Shui shang gongyuan xi lu), next to the Tianjin Library and across the street from Nankai University. Entering through the main entrance on Shuishang gongyuan xi lu, bear right and walk to the back, then take a left and head into the new building. If you have entered a grand lobby with hanging chandeliers and a young soldier guarding the door, you are in the right place. The archive is open on Monday through Continue reading

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Tales for Tarō: A Study of Japanese Children’s Magazines, 1888–1949, by NONA L. CARTER.

Today on the new Dissertation Reviews site: L. Halliday Piel’s review of “Tales for Tarō: A Study of Japanese Children’s Magazines, 1888–1949,” by NONA L. CARTER.

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Mad Acts, Mad Speech, and Mad People in Late Imperial Chinese Law and Medicine, by FABIEN SIMONIS.

[NoteTo read this review on the new Dissertation Reviews site, click here]

In the spirit of Paul Unschuld and Nathan Sivin, who have both meticulously documented and translated the traditional Chinese medical canon from its first articulation in the Huangdi neijing, Fabien Simonis presents a stunningly comprehensive look at changing conceptions of madness throughout Chinese history. Simonis organizes his Continue reading

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First “Japan Studies Dissertation Review” Today

Dissertation Reviews has expanded into Japan Studies, and today is the first post. Please visit us here and help us spread the word among colleagues.

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Modern Homes for Modern Families in Tianjin, China, 1860-1949, by ELIZABETH LaCOUTURE.

[NoteTo read this review on the new Dissertation Reviews site, click here]

Elizabeth LaCouture’s dissertation is structured around the multiple meanings of jiating (家庭)—family, house, and home—and the complicated interweaving of those meanings as China struggled in the early twentieth century to redefine society and nation. Drawing together formerly disparate bodies of scholarship on reform of the family (particularly xiao jiating 小家庭), changing house design, and aesthetics for home furnishing and decorating, LaCouture argues that, as it morphed from the Qing’s jia (家), jiating was a key site in the creation of modern identities. Situating her explorations in hybrid Tianjin (a hybridity that Ruth Rogaski also fruitfully excavated Continue reading

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New Dissertation Reviews Website Online

Dear Colleagues,

The new year of Dissertation Reviews debuts this Monday with one of forty new postings (and counting). As part of the new year, and our expansion into Japan Studies and Korean Studies, we are proud to announce the new website www.dissertationreviews.org. There you will find enhanced functionality and an elegant new design.

For those who prefer the “classic” layout, we will continue to post new Chinese History dissertation reviews here, as well as on the new site. Japan Studies and Korean Studies reviews will be posted exclusively on the new site, which is better equipped to handle the expanded, multi-topic format.

Sincerely,

Tom Mullaney
Stanford University

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PDF Digest of all Chinese History Dissertation Reviews posted in 2010

In preparation for a new series of dissertation reviews, we’ve compiled all of last year’s posts in a downloadable PDF digest. You can find it here:

Chinese History Dissertation Reviews Digest 2010

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Update on “Fresh from the Archives”

The response to the new series has been wonderful so far, with reviews underway for the municipal archives in Tianjin, Chongqing, Xi’an, Kunming, and Shijiazhuang; and the provincial archives in Shaanxi, Hebei, and Sichuan. If you have recent experience in an archive not listed here, and want to be a guide for your colleagues in the field, please contact Tom Mullaney at tsmullaney@stanford.edu

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“Fresh from the Archives” (A New Series on Chinese History Dissertation Reviews)

As everyone well knows who works in the field of history, archives are at once the most rewarding and frustrating parts of the job. They are sites of epiphany and of bureaucracy in equal measure, with their internal workings changing from place to place, and year to year. Some archives require extensive documentation Continue reading

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20 New Dissertation Reviews Scheduled for 2011

Chinese History Dissertation Reviews is proud to announce that over 20 new dissertations are set to be featured during the 2011-12 academic year, the majority of which will be reviewed by new members of the CHDR network. New authors and reviewers include:

Emily Baum (UCSD)
Miriam Gross (University of Oklahoma)
Xing Hang (Brandeis University)
Dahpon Ho (University of Rochester)
Iiyama Tomoyasu (Waseda University)
Melissa Inouye (Harvard University)
Hyun-Ho Joo (Yonsei University)
Elizabeth LaCouture (Colby College)
Wennan Liu (UC Berkeley)
Continue reading

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Has the Fulbright-Hays Cancellation Affected You?

This week, the U.S. Department of Education announced that, due to budgetary constraints, “no new awards will be made under the [Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad] Program in FY 2011.” Continue reading

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Coming in Fall 2011: Japan Studies Dissertation Reviews

It is with great pleasure that we announce the forthcoming launch of “Japan Studies Dissertation Reviews,” set to go live in Fall 2011. In the tradition of CHDR Continue reading

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Coming in Fall 2011: Korean Studies Dissertation Reviews

It is with great pleasure that we announce the forthcoming launch of “Korean Studies Dissertation Reviews,” set to go live in Fall 2011. In the tradition of CHDR Continue reading

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Sex, Eugenics, Aesthetics, Utopia in the Life and Work of Zhang Jingsheng (1888-1970). By LEON ANTONIO ROCHA. (Review by David Luesink)

Sex, Eugenics, Aesthetics, Utopia in the Life and Work of Zhang Jingsheng (1888-1970). By LEON ANTONIO ROCHA. Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, 2010. 327 pp. Supervisors: John Forrester and Susan Daruvala.

In 1927, a popular science author wrote that “in the beginning sex was morally decent.” This was apparent to him in the first line of the children’s basic Confucian text, the Three Character Classic (re zhi chu, xing ben shan, xing xiang jin, xi xiang yuan 人之初性本善性相近習相遠 ). It was clear to his reviewer, Zhou Zuoren, as it should be to anyone familiar with classical Chinese, that before the twentieth century, xing referred not to ‘sex’ at all, but to ‘human nature’ (pp. 91-92).

Continue reading

Posted in 2010, Cambridge University, China, East Asia, Fields, History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, Intellectual History, John Forrester, KMT, Novels and short stories, Periodicals, Susan Daruvala, Themes and Subfields, Uncategorized, Year of Defense | 1 Comment

The Rise of the “Fact” in Modern China: Reading Historical Evidence Against the Grain. (By Tong Lam)

My first interest in the question of the fact, especially the social fact, began with a graduate seminar. In the course my research, I came across a set of class settlement reports from two counties in the Shandong Province. These reports, which read like an expanded version of household registration forms, were generated in the context of the Four Cleanups Movement between 1963 and 1966. Also known as the Socialist Education Movement, the main purpose of the campaign was to eliminate the “reactionary” elements within the government. As part of the campaign, work teams were dispatched to the countryside to correct any erroneous or deviant practices at the lower level bureaucracy. These work teams were also instructed to encourage villagers to speak out about their grievances, including their dissatisfaction with their assigned class statues. Continue reading

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Invitation to Info Session in Hawaii (Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting)

Dear Colleagues and Students in East Asian Studies,

Please mark your calendars and join us for an informational session to be held at the Association for Asian Studies Annual Meeting in Hawaii. Discussion will focus on the future of the review site, and its planned expansion into Japan, Korea, and other disciplines. To give you a preview, we are excited to report that Nancy Abelmann (UIUC – Anthropology, Asian-American Studies, EALC) is working on the first pilot extension into Korean studies, with six reviews already in the pipeline. We are also in conversation with scholars interested in developing a Japan studies site.

The meeting information is as follows:

Saturday, April 2
12:00-1:30pm
Main Conference Center (Hawaii Convention Center/1801 Kalakaua Avenue)
Room 305A

We would be grateful if you would spread the word to any and all China, Japan, or Korea studies colleagues or students who might be interested, and we hope to see you in Hawaii!

Happy Year of the Rabbit,

Tom Mullaney, Stanford University
Nancy Abelmann, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Gina Russo, Stanford University

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The Householder Elite: Buddhist Activism in Shanghai, 1920-1956. By JAMES BROOKS JESSUP. (Review by Erik J. Hammerstrom)

The Householder Elite: Buddhist Activism in Shanghai, 1920-1956. By JAMES BROOKS JESSUP. University of California, Berkeley, 2010. 95 pp. (single-spaced) Primary Advisor: Wen-hsin Yeh.

This dissertation studies the role that Shanghai’s elites played in constructing a new lay Buddhist identity in China from the 1920s to the 1950s. Jessup uses social history to examine the status of religion among Shanghai elites, investigating the social networks and the political and business connections within which such elites operated. This work brings together two distinct spheres of historical inquiry, and offers something to each: On the one hand, social histories of Republican Shanghai are abundant (Jessup cites the work of Wen-hsin Yeh, Janet Lloyd, and Xiaoqun Xu as having impacted this dissertation), but few have focused on the role of religion in Shanghai society; on the other hand, although the field of Chinese Buddhist studies has recently taken a much greater interest in the development of Chinese Buddhism in the early twentieth century, no large scale study of the burgeoning lay movement have yet been attempted using the methods employed here. Continue reading

Posted in 2010, China, East Asia, Fields, History of Buddhism, Japan, KMT, Nationalism, Periodicals, Religious History, Shanghai Municipal Archives, University of California Berkeley, Yeh, Wen-hsin | Leave a comment

Buddhists Discuss Science in Modern China (1895-1949). By ERIK J HAMMERSTROM. (Review by Benjamin Brose)

Buddhists Discuss Science in Modern China (1895-1949). By ERIK J HAMMERSTROM. Indiana University, 2010. 506 pp. Advisor: Aaron Stalnaker. (Review by Benjamin Brose).

Buddhists Discuss Science in Modern China is an innovative and fascinating exploration of the many ways Chinese Buddhists struggled to come to terms with the ever-increasing influence of science and scientism during the late Qing and Republican periods. The dramatic impact of largely European discourses of modernity on the political and social development of China during these formative decades has already been examined from numerous perspectives—intellectual history, political theory, economic development, etc.—and in the last few years several excellent dissertations and monographs have looked more closely at how Buddhist and Daoist communities responded to the challenges of this era. Erik J. Hammerstrom’s dissertation makes an important contribution to this growing body of work through a detailed and engaging study of the formation of a specifically Buddhist discourse on the nature and relevance contemporary scientific knowledge. Continue reading

Posted in 2010, Aaron Stalnaker, Alma Mater, China, East Asia, Fields, History of Buddhism, History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, Indiana University, Intellectual History, Intellectual History, Periodicals, Religious History, Year of Defense | Leave a comment

Buddhist Empires: Saṃgha-State Relations in Tenth-Century China. By BENJAMIN BROSE (Review by Nicolas Tackett)

Buddhist Empires: Saṃgha-State Relations in Tenth-Century China. By BENJAMIN BROSE . Stanford University, 2009. 404 pp. Primary Advisor: Carl Bielefeldt.

Benjamin Brose’s dissertation is path-breaking in producing a history of Buddhism during the pivotal tenth century. Brose’s temporal focus is based on the premise that understanding the profound changes affecting China across the Tang-Song transition requires a better grasp of the interregnum between the two dynasties in question. His prosopographic approach (using collections of biographies of monks) allows him to place developments in Buddhism in a particular sociocultural context. As such, his work is important both to historians of religion and to social historians of Middle Period China.

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Posted in 2009, China, East Asia, History of Buddhism, Jingde era Record of the Transmission of the Lamp, Patriarch's Hall Collection, Religious History, Song Biographies of Eminent Monks, Song Dynasty, Stanford University, Tang Dynasty | Leave a comment

Yudahua: The Growth of An Industrial Enterprise in Modern China 1890-1957. By JUANJUAN PENG (Review by George Zhijian Qiao)

Yudahua: The Growth of An Industrial Enterprise in Modern China 1890-1957. By JUANJUAN PENG. John Hopkins University, 2007. 215 pp. Primary Advisors: William T. Rowe and Tobie Meyer-Fong.

This dissertation revisits the early industrialization and business history of modern China through a case study. First, by outlining the history of Yudahua, a Wuhan based industrial enterprise, from its inception as a late Qing self-strengthening movement project to its forced incorporation into the communist economic system in the 1950s, the author seeks continuities to challenge the fragmented picture presented in the existing historiography of modern Chinese industrialization. Second, challenging earlier economic/business historians that emphasized the role of state in modern China’s industrial growth, including Albert Feuerwerker and Wellington Chan, the author highlights the importance of indigenous entrepreneurship as a driving force by focusing on the internal institutional and organizational evolution of Yudahua. According to the author, the transformation of a  family firm organized by social networks to large-scale multi-dimensional business group based on impersonal contractual relations indicated a new direction for modern Chinese business development that was thwarted in the early PRC era.

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Posted in Advisors, Alma Mater, Business history, China, East Asia, Johns Hopkins University, KMT, Meyer-Fong, Tobie, Oral History, Private materials from factories, Qing dynasty, Rowe, William, Wenshi Ziliao, Wuhan Municipal Archives | 3 Comments

Scooped? (by Charlotte Cowden)

Recently a friend at Harvard sent me a link about an on-campus talk, thinking that it might be related to my research. I expected to open it, scan the description quickly, nod and file it away for further reference. Instead, as I began to read, waves of panic ensued. At first glance, the topic of the talk seemed closely related to my dissertation research. A second read through confirmed this and suddenly I began entertaining a series of worst case scenarios: what if our sources were the same (or even worse – theirs were better!)? What if our general conclusions were the same but their work came out first? And most dramatically, if this was the case, what had I been doing when I was traipsing to the Shanghai library and municipal archive for a year? What to do?

Posted in Archival Collections, Charlotte Cowden, China, East Asia, Fields, Methods, Uncategorized, University of California Berkeley | Tagged | 1 Comment

Fascism, Cultural Revolution, and National Sovereignty in 1930s China. By MARGARET CLINTON. (Review by Kristin Mulready-Stone)

Fascism, Cultural Revolution, and National Sovereignty in 1930s China. By Margaret Clinton. New York University, 2009. 344 pp. Advisor: Rebecca Karl

Margaret Clinton provides in-depth analysis of Chinese fascism’s intellectual content through a study of articles published in fascist and other Chinese journals during the 1930s. Clinton sets out to demonstrate that even though Chinese fascism seems ill-defined and its goals self-contradictory, the fascist movement did have a clear-cut plan. The fascist thought of the Blueshirt, CC Clique, and Reorganization factions – which between them controlled many of the Nationalist regime’s civil, political, and military bodies during the Nanjing Decade – is the primary focus of Clinton’s work. A fundamental point she makes is “while disagreements between these factions have been amply documented, these men ultimately shared more in common ideologically with each other and with fascist movements elsewhere in the world than with Continue reading

Posted in 2009, Advisors, Alma Mater, China, Fields, Karl, Rebecca, KMT, KMT published manuals and periodicals, Nationalism, New York University, Periodicals, Themes and Subfields | 2 Comments

“Give Me a Day, and I Will Give You the World”: Chinese Fiction Periodicals in Global Context, 1900-1910. By DUN WANG. (Review by Yvon Wang).

“Give Me a Day, and I Will Give You the World”: Chinese Fiction Periodicals in Global Context, 1900-1910. By Dun Wang. University of California, Berkeley, 2008. 211 pp. Advisor: Andrew F. Jones.

Give Me a Day analyzes early 20th-century serialized Chinese “new fiction” that ran in periodicals and addresses their relationship to the social and intellectual currents of the period, especially in an international context. Wang’s introductory section muses on his perceptions of the dualities temporality and spatiality and the relationship between the dawn of the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries. Overall, he presents a landscape of fiction transcending older literary scholarship centered on the May Fourth and New Culture movements, in a similar vein to works such as Lydia Liu’s Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity–China, 1900-1937 and Theodore Huters Bringing the World Home: Appropriating the West in Late Qing and Early Republican China. Instead of viewing 1919 as a total break with decadent tradition in favor of “real” literature, Wang avers that late Qing fiction should be included into a picture of continuous Continue reading

Posted in 2008, Alma Mater, China, East Asia, Jones, Andrew, Literary history, Nationalism, Novels and short stories, Periodicals, Qing dynasty, Uncategorized, University of California Berkeley, Urban History | Leave a comment

See You in 2011 (and links to the first 10 reviews)

These last two months have been an exciting start for Chinese History Dissertation Reviews. Since our launch date on October 18th, we’ve posted 10 reviews of dissertations defended at eight different institutions, covering a wide array of topics and subfields. We are truly inspired by the reception thus far, and we look forward to more reviews in 2011 as well as posts from our various contributors about practical concerns of doing research in the field (the first of which was the recent essay by Jeremy Brown on grassroots historical sources from the Mao era).

Links to our published reviews can be found below. We wish all our readers a happy holiday season, and look forward to seeing you in 2011.

Thomas S. Mullaney
Gina Russo

Organizing Shanghai’s Youth: Communist, Nationalist, and Collaborationist Strategies, 1920-1942. By KRISTIN MULREADY-STONE (Review by Maggie Clinton)

Becoming Faithful: Christianity, Literacy, and Female Consciousness in Northeast China, 1830-1930. By JI LI (Review by Brooks Jessup)

Marginal Constituencies: Qing Borderland Policies and Vernacular Histories of Five Tribes on the Sino-Russian Frontier. By LORETTA EUMIE KIM (Review by Eric Vanden Bussche)

On the Run: Women, City, and the Law in Beijing, 1937-1949. By ZHAO MA (Review by Nicole Barnes)

Saintly Brokers: Uyghur Muslims, Trade, and the Making of Qing Central Asia, 1696-1814. By KWANGMIN KIM (Review by Loretta Kim)

International and Wartime Origins of the Propaganda State: The Motion Picture in China, 1897-1955. By MATTHEW DAVID JOHNSON (Review by Kevin Carrico)

Stretching the Skin of the Nation: Chinese Intellectuals, the State, and the Frontiers in the Nanjing Decade (1927-1937). (Author: ZHIHONG CHEN | Reviewer: James Leibold)

Gu Hongming and the Re-invention of Chinese Civilization. (Author: CHUNMEI DU | Reviewer: Hyungju Hur)

Law and Sensibility of Empire in the Making of Modern China, 1750-1900. (Author: LI CHEN | Reviewer: David Luesink)

Crossing the Urban-Rural Divide in Twentieth Century China. (Author: JEREMY BROWN | Reviewer: Christopher Leighton)

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Finding and Using Grassroots Historical Sources from the Mao Era (by Jeremy Brown)

As I opened the New York Times on January 26, 2010, I was excited to see an article about how the Beijing Municipal Archive (BMA) had opened sixteen new volumes of files dating from the Cultural Revolution period. I shared the journalists’ happiness at increased official openness, but I was surprised that they did not seem to realize that vast quantities of rich archival material from the Cultural Revolution have been publicly available for more than a decade. As government, state-owned, and collective work units have disbanded, reorganized, or relocated in recent years, reams of files dating from the Mao era have found their way to antique markets, used book markets, and online sellers throughout China.

Archival material obtained from this “gray” sector of the Chinese economy has already made a significant impact on scholarship about the Cultural Continue reading

Posted in China, East Asia, Fields | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Organizing Shanghai’s Youth: Communist, Nationalist, and Collaborationist Strategies, 1920-1942. By KRISTIN MULREADY-STONE (Review by Maggie Clinton)

Organizing Shanghai’s Youth: Communist, Nationalist, and Collaborationist Strategies, 1920-1942. By KRISTIN MULREADY-STONE. Yale University, 2009. 334 pp. Advisor: Jonathan D. Spence.

Kristin Mulready-Stone’s dissertation documents the organization and activities of party-affiliated youth organizations in Shanghai from 1920-1942. Consisting of six chapters plus an introduction and conclusion, the dissertation traces the ways in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Chinese Nationalist Party (GMD), and wartime collaborationist governments attempted to harness the energies of young Chinese activists from the May Fourth Movement through World War II. Drawing from archival materials in Chinese, English, Russian, and Japanese, the dissertation offers a comprehensive overview of the structure, aims, and mobilization strategies of the Communist Youth League, the (Nationalist) Three Principles of the People Youth Corps, and the (collaborationist) China Youth Corps. By focusing on early Communist and Nationalist Party efforts to create durable institutions for ideologically remolding young men and women, Mulready-Stone sheds light on a neglected yet pivotal dimension of popular mobilization in Republican China. Further, by detailing the aims and activities of organizations created for Chinese youth by Japanese occupation authorities, this dissertation offers insight Continue reading

Posted in 2009, CCP, China, East Asia, Memoirs, Nationalism, Periodicals, Shanghai Municipal Archives, Spence, Jonathan, Yale University | Leave a comment

Becoming Faithful: Christianity, Literacy, and Female Consciousness in Northeast China, 1830-1930. By JI LI (Review by Brooks Jessup)

Becoming Faithful: Christianity, Literacy, and Female Consciousness in Northeast China, 1830-1930. By JI LI. University of Michigan, 2009. 298 pp. Primary Advisor: James Lee.

Ji Li’s dissertation is a fascinating study of the French Catholic mission sent to Manchuria by the Société des Missions Étrangères de Paris (MEP). Spanning the first century of the mission’s development from its founding in the late Qing dynasty into the early Republican era, the author marshals a rich source base of archival mission documents and private writings in both French and Chinese, supplemented by published records and local gazetteers. Li argues that by approaching conversion as a process of education, the Manchuria Mission brought a form of “religious literacy” to rural Chinese converts, especially women, which allowed them to transcend Chinese cultural constraints and articulate new expressions of self.

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Posted in Advisors, Alma Mater, Archival Collections, Archives des missions étrangères de Paris (Paris, France), Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo (Lisbon, Portugal), Centre des Archives diplomatiques de Nantes (Nantes, France), Lee, James, Liaoning Provincial Archives (Shenyang, China), University of Michigan | 1 Comment

Marginal Constituencies: Qing Borderland Policies and Vernacular Histories of Five Tribes on the Sino-Russian Frontier. By LORETTA EUMIE KIM (Review by Eric Vanden Bussche)

Marginal Constituencies: Qing Borderland Policies and Vernacular Histories of Five Tribes on the Sino-Russian Frontier. By LORETTA EUMIE KIM. Harvard University, 2009. 427 pp. Primary Advisor: Philip Kuhn.

Recent scholarship on late imperial Chinese history has examined how the Qing state devised distinct strategies to manage its heterogeneous population. Loretta Kim’s dissertation contributes to this on-going debate by focusing on the “Five Tribes” along the northern frontier with Russia: the Dagur, Heje, Oroqen, Sibe and Salon. Her objectives are twofold. First, she analyzes the Qing state’s changing policies toward the Five Tribes from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries to show how the imperial court employed native populations of the borderlands to secure its territorial ambitions. Second, Kim examines the extent to which contemporary perceptions of the Five Tribes’ position in the Qing empire have influenced the ethnic identities of these groups’ modern-day descendants.

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Posted in 2009, Advisors, Alma Mater, China, East Asia, Eastern Europe, Frontiers and borders, Harvard University, Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences Institute of History, Kuhn, Philip, Qing dynasty, Veritable Records of the Qing | 1 Comment

On the Run: Women, City, and the Law in Beijing, 1937-1949. By ZHAO MA (Review by Nicole Barnes)

On the Run: Women, City, and the Law in Beijing, 1937-1949. By ZHAO MA. Johns Hopkins University, 2007. 297 pp. Primary Advisor: William T. Rowe.

Zhao opens with several cases of “deserting wives” who used their women-centered social networks in 1940s Beijing tenement courtyards to leave dissatisfactory husbands. Their dissatisfaction stemmed in one case from recurrent beatings (p. 46), but hunger was the most common culprit (pp. 40, 48). Zhao contrasts the late Qing, Nationalist, and Japanese occupation governments’ tightly regimented baojia mutual surveillance system, with lower-class women’s unorthodox social networks to illustrate their creation of “networks of cooperation” in order to Continue reading

Posted in 2007, Advisors, Alma Mater, Archival Collections, Beijing Bureau of Social Affairs, Beijing District Court, Beijing Municipal Archives, Beijing Municipal Police Department, China, East Asia, Fields, Gender and Women's History, Johns Hopkins University, Rowe, William, Urban History, Women's History, Year of Defense | 1 Comment

Saintly Brokers: Uyghur Muslims, Trade, and the Making of Qing Central Asia, 1696-1814. By KWANGMIN KIM (Review by Loretta Kim)

Saintly Brokers: Uyghur Muslims, Trade, and the Making of Qing Central Asia, 1696-1814. By KWANGMIN KIM. University of California, Berkeley, 2008. 485 pp. Primary Advisors: Wen-hsin Yeh, Yuri Slezkine, and Patricia Berger.

Kwangmin Kim’s dissertation is a significant contribution to multiple scholarly debates regarding the Qing dynasty’s identity as an imperial state and an important player in the global economy of its time. It consists of a précis within a preface, introduction, six body chapters, conclusion, bibliography, and five appendices with quantitative and qualitative information about Ming and Qing administration of the region presently known as Xinjiang, including tax figures and personnel appointments. The main content is divided into three parts, each consisting of two chapters, that are chronological and thematic. The work traces the late Ming background of the Uyghur Muslim khojas (elite leaders claiming descent from the prophet Muhammad), this group’s collaboration with the Qing state until the late Qianlong reign, and the transformation of the Uyghur-Qing relationship in the early nineteenth century.

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Posted in Advisors, Alma Mater, Archival Collections, Berger, Patricia, Number One Historical Archives (Beijing), Slezkine, Yuri, University of California Berkeley, Yeh, Wen-hsin | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

International and Wartime Origins of the Propaganda State: The Motion Picture in China, 1897-1955. By MATTHEW DAVID JOHNSON (Review by Kevin Carrico)

International and Wartime Origins of the Propaganda State: The Motion Picture in China, 1897-1955. By MATTHEW DAVID JOHNSON. University of California, San Diego, 2008. 485 pp. Primary Advisors: Joseph W. Esherick and Paul G. Pickowicz.

Last autumn, the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China was marked not only by an elaborately choreographed parade, but also by an epic film, “The Founding of a Republic” (Jianguo daye). Funded by the state-owned China Film Group and featuring a gratuitously star-studded cast including Andy Lau, Zhang Ziyi, and Jackie Chan, “The Founding of a Republic” recounted for its domestic audience, yet again, the Civil War that brought the Chinese Communist Party to power. This cinematic event and countless similar examples beg the question: how have politics and cultural production become so closely and mutually intertwined throughout the history of modern China? In “International and Wartime Origins of the Propaganda State,” Matthew D. Johnson questions simplistic explanations of these trends as “socialist” or uniquely “Chinese,” moving beyond conventional framings to realize a compelling analysis of the roles of both the pre-1949 wartime context and international influence upon the emergence of the Chinese propaganda state.

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Posted in Advisors, Alma Mater, Esherick, Joseph, Pickowicz, Paul, University of California San Diego | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Stretching the Skin of the Nation: Chinese Intellectuals, the State, and the Frontiers in the Nanjing Decade (1927-1937) (Author: Zhihong Chen | Reviewer: James Leibold)

Stretching the Skin of the Nation: Chinese Intellectuals, the State, and the Frontiers in the Nanjing Decade (1927-1937). By Zhihong Chen. University of Oregon, 2008. 304 pp. Primary Advisor: Bryna Goodman.

In Stretching the Skin of the Nation, Zhihong Chen offers a meticulously researched, cogently presented and empirically rich analysis of the “Go to the Frontier” (dao bianjiang qu) movement during the Nanjing Decade. Through a careful examination of key Republican era journals, books and professional activities related to the “frontier” (bianjiang), Chen convincingly argues that Han Chinese elites actively “territorialized” frontier space—constructing a unified, sovereign yet imaginary geobody through their research, travel writing, disciplinary practices and technologies of modern state-building. She asserts that Chinese intellectuals and officials viewed the frontier through “instrumentalist” lenses in a visceral, almost knee-jerk, reaction to foreign imperialism, propelling them to reconfigure traditional strategies and adopt new, modern practices aimed at saturating, controlling and institutionalizing frontier space. Yet, as she goes to great lengths to stress, this “borderizing” process was contested, contingent and continually adjusted in response to local, national and transnational circumstances.

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Posted in 2008, China, East Asia, Fields, Goodman, Bryna, University of Oregon, Year of Defense | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gu Hongming and the Re-invention of Chinese Civilization (Author: Chunmei Du | Reviewer: Hyungju Hur)

Gu Hongming and the Re-invention of Chinese Civilization. By CHUNMEI DU. Princeton University, 2009. 293 pp. Primary Advisor: Benjamin Elman.

This dissertation illuminates the life and thought of Gu Hongming (辜鸿铭 1857-1928), a cosmopolitan scholar of the late Qing and early Republican period who has been forgotten or, at best, simply stigmatized as an anachronistic conservative in Chinese intellectual history. Chunmei Du approaches this task by crossing national, cultural, ideological, and disciplinary boundaries, while renouncing paradigms based on either a linear development of tradition to modernity or an essential discrepancy between Chinese and Western learning (pp. 10-12).

Following her introductory essay, Chapter 2 Continue reading

Posted in 2009, Academia Sinica, Advisors, Alma Mater, Archival Collections, China, Daitō Bunka (University in Tokyo), East Asia, Elman, Benjamin, Fields, National University of Singapore Archives, Number One Historical Archives (Beijing), Number Two Historical Archives (Nanjing), Princeton University, University of Edinburgh Archives, Year of Defense | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Off to a Truly Exciting Start

Thank you to everyone for making the first few days of CHDR a success. We are delighted to report that, in the first 48 hours alone, the inaugural reviews were read by hundreds of scholars. The second pair of reviews will post on November 1, so please stay tuned.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment