Spring 2011

Seminar on Modern China: The People and the State

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-70  |  History, as HIST-75


Jerry P. Dennerline (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 75 [AS] and ASLC 70 [C].) Political thinkers and activists inside China and throughout the world today puzzle over the relationship between the people and the state.  Where do state functions and state control begin and end?  How do the global economy, China’s increasing regional hegemony, internal migration, NGOs, rural protest, and the internet influence the relationship between the people and the state?  Fundamental questions about the relationship between the people and the state have occupied thinkers and activists since the beginning of the twentieth century.  Reformers in China tried to transform the imperial state into a constitutional monarchy, revolutionaries tried to create a Republic, Nationalists tried to build a “corporatist state,” and Communists tried to create a Socialist one.  At each stage, the state-makers “imagined” the people, mobilized them, categorized them, and tried to control them.  The people became subjects, citizens, nationals, and “the masses.”  They divided themselves by native place, region, language, ethnicity, political party, class, and educational status.  Chinese people in Southeast Asia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, have imagined themselves in relation to both “the ancestral land” and the colonial or national states under which they live.  The process is by no means over.  This seminar will focus on the problem of “imagining” and mobilizing people in China and these other states over the past century.  General topics will include the ideas, the intellectual and educational context, and the mobilizations of urban and rural communities, commercial and religious groups, and NGOs.  Research topics will depend on the interests of students.  One class meeting per week.

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students.  Spring semester.  Professor Dennerline.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to students who have done previous work in Chinese studies.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2013