CANCELLED: State and Society during China's Republican Era (1911–1949)

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5:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Paul Webley Wing (Senate House)
Alumni Lecture Theatre (SALT)

About this event



Xavier Paulès (EHESS)

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Two political notions of crucial importance transformed China during the first decades of the twentieth century. First, the legitimacy of the State was no longer derived from divine power but from a constructed social entity: Society. Second, this social body was to be shaped and organized by the State for the purpose of strengthening the nation in the context of a highly competitive international environment. These ideas were shared by the Guomindang and the Chinese Communist Party. Both of them harbored the ambition to extend the control of the State onto society and considered it a necessity to mobilize the population for the purpose of Revolution.

Scholars have rightfully pointed out that the Guomindang State never proved able to exert an extensive control over the everyday life of its citizens. Mass campaigns such as the New Life Movement were altogether failures. As a whole, the Guomindang State never achieved a level of centralization, social control, mobilization and fiscal extraction comparable to that of the CCP regime after 1949. Yet this should not draw us to the conclusion that it was weak or inefficient. This presentation will draw on a variety of examples (e.g. urban planning, statistics, economics) and will demonstrate that at different and often competing levels, and through a variety of means, the Chinese State considerably extended its grip over society during the Republican period.

About the speaker

Xavier Paulès is an associate professor at EHESS in Paris since 2010. He was the head of the Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine from 2015 to 2018. His last book-length publication came out in 2019 : La République de Chine, 1912-1949 , Paris: Les Belles Lettres. His last publications in English include Living on borrowed time. Opium in Canton, 1906-1936 , Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, and « The Afterlife of Sun Yat-sen during the Republic (1925-1949) », in Alan Baumler (ed.), Routledge Handbook of Revolutionary China , London: Routledge, 2019, p. 158-172.


This event is open to the public and free to attend, however registration is required. Online Registration

Chair: Lars Laamann (SOAS)

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

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Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4823