Becoming ChinesePassages to Modernity and Beyond

Becoming ChinesePassages to Modernity and Beyond

Wen-hsin Yeh

Print publication date: 2012

ISBN: 9780520219236

Publisher: University of California Press


This volume evaluates the dual roles of war and modernity in the transformation of twentieth-century Chinese identity. The chapters argue that war, no less than revolution, deserves attention as a major force in the making of twentieth-century Chinese history. Further, they show that modernity in material culture and changes in intellectual consciousness should serve as twin foci of a new wave of scholarly analysis. Examining in particular the rise of modern Chinese cities and the making of the Chinese nation-state, the chapters provide new ways of thinking about China's modern transformation up to the 1950s. Taken together, the chapters demonstrate that the combined effect of a modernizing state and an industrializing economy weakened the Chinese bourgeoisie and undercut the individual's quest for autonomy. Drawing upon new archival sources, these theoretically informed, thoroughly revisionist chapters focus on topics such as Western-inspired modernity, urban cosmopolitanism, consumer culture, gender relationships, interchanges between city and countryside, and the growing impact of the state on the lives of individuals. The volume makes an important contribution toward a postsocialist understanding of twentieth-century China.