Reading Citizens: Popular Education Campaigns and the Construction of the Chinese Political Subject, 1904-1937 Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Smith, Zachary
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This dissertation examines how education reformers in early twentieth-century China redefined the relationship between the state and its people through popular education policy. As China transitioned from a dynastic empire to a modern nation-state, reformers looked to popular education as one of the most necessary and effective means of transforming the Chinese people from imperial subjects into modern citizens. Yet reformers often disagreed on how new students should be reached, what they should be taught, and how the state should manage such endeavors. Drawing from education law, professional education journals, experimental schools, and popular education textbooks, the dissertation explores these diverse approaches to popular education and argues that in debating how to develop a system for educating citizens, reformers frequently found themselves in a struggle to define who a Chinese citizen was. Furthermore, it argues that many early popular education programs pioneered the specific models of state-society relations that defined Chinese political culture throughout the twentieth century. In treating education policy as an importance space in which citizenship acquired new meanings in China, this project applies intellectual history broadly to include more everyday forms of intellectual production and illustrates the important connections between policy-making, nation building, and the history of ideas.
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Tsin, Michael
  • Leloudis, James
  • King, Michelle
  • Pitelka, Morgan
  • Kramer, Lloyd
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2015
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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