The Rise of Political Intellectuals in Modern China: May Fourth Societies and the Roots of Mass-party Politics

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Abstract

This book is a social and cultural history of political radicals during China’s pivotal May Fourth Movement (1915–1923). Whereas most narratives of May Fourth center on the coastal metropoles of Beijing and Shanghai, this book examines the everyday life of May Fourth activists in Wuhan, central China’s most important urban center. By examining the cultural-political societies founded by the local teacher and journalist Yun Daiying (1895–1931) the book illuminates the ways in which the May Fourth Movement developed in hinterland urban centers and from there into a nationwide movement, which ultimately provided the basis for the emergence of mass political parties, namely the Nationalist Party (Guomindang) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It thus demonstrates that May Fourth radicalism was the product of a dialogue between the coast and the hinterland. The book demonstrates how provincial print-culture combined with small, local organizations and informal social networks to create a political movement. The book’s focus on individuals, organizations, as well as social networks and sociability, connects the everyday lived experience of activists with the cultural and political ferment of the time. It thus provides a novel interpretation of where mechanisms of historical change are located.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages250
ISBN (Print)9780199382262
StatePublished - 2015

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