The Allure of the Nation

The Cultural and Historical Debates in Late Qing and Republican China


Author: Tze-ki Hon
Covering half a century, from 1895 to 1945, The Allure of the Nation examines three interlocking aspects of Chinese nationalist modernity: (1) the quest to balance global connectivity and ethnic authenticity; (2) the desire to balance national unity and local autonomy; (3) the drive to balance history’s place as a tool of political propaganda and as a weapon used to critique orthodoxy and political suppression. By viewing the nation as a cluster of spatial-temporal relations that link individuals to a territorial state, this book provides a different view of early twentieth-century China where the party-state did not have full control of political and cultural affairs, and alternative political perspectives (such as local self-government and democratic aristocracy) could be freely expressed.

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Tze-ki Hon, Ph.D. (1992), University of Chicago, is Professor of History at State University of New York-Geneseo. He has published monographs and articles on pre-modern and modern China, including The Yijing and Chinese Politics (SUNY Press, 2005) and Revolution as Restoration (Brill, 2013).
"The Allure of the Nation is testimony to Hon’s decades-long research on the relationship between nation and history, a relationship about which every historian of modern China must be aware. [...] In total, the seven chapters of this book offer an alternative reading of China’s past where the dichotomies of revolution vs. reform, radicalism vs. conservatism, and East vs. West play a far more minor role than usually assumed."
Marc A. Matten, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Frontiers of Literary Studies, Vol. 10.2 (August 2016)


1. Balancing the Competing Claims in a New Global Order

2. Educating the Chinese Citizens

3. Sino-Babylonianism before and after the Great War

4. A Nation of Moderation versus a Nation of Extremes

5. China’s Cultural and Ethnic Diversity

6. A New Aristocracy of the Chinese Republic

7. Contemporary Meanings of the Sui-Tang Period (581–907)


All interested in the intellectual history of early twentieth-century China, and anyone concerned with the theory of nationalism, particularly the cultural critique of nation-state and party-state.