Beyond Citizenship: Literacy and Personhood in Everyday China, 1900-1945


Beyond Citizenship focuses on the role of literacy in building a modern nation-state by examining the government provision of adult literacy training in early twentieth-century China. Based on untapped archives and diaries, Di Luo uncovers people’s strategic use of literacy and illiteracy in social interactions and explores the impact of daily experiences on the expansion of state power. Highlighting interpersonal and intergroup relations, Beyond Citizenship suggests a new methodology of studying literacy which foregrounds the agentive role of historical actors and so moves away from a more traditional approach that treats literacy itself as the key factor enabling social change.

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Di Luo, Ph.D. (2015, The Ohio State University), is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Alabama. Her research investigates the rise of the modern nation-state in twentieth-century China as ordinary people experienced it.
List of Maps, Tables, and Figures
A Note on Romanization and Chinese Characters

Introduction: Literacy, Identity, and Politics in Everyday China, 1900–1945
 1 Modern Education, Nationalism, and State Building
 2 Approaching Literacy: Process, Scale-Making, and Sociopolitical Positioning
 3 Overview of the Book

1 Mapping Literacy and Illiteracy in the Early Twentieth Century
 1 Scaling Literacy in Everyday Life
  1.1 Literacy’s Conditional and Variable Importance
  1.2 The Tactical Uses of Illiteracy and the Risks Associated with Writing
 2 The Rise of the Nation-Building/Modernization Narrative of Literacy
  2.1 The Constructed Dichotomy between Literacy and Illiteracy by Modernizers
  2.2 “School-Age Children” and “Unschooled Elders”: The Institutionalization of Two-Tiered Literacy
  2.3 Language Reform Initiatives: Alternative and Contesting Perspectives
 3 Conclusion: Literacy at the Intersection of Daily Practices and the Nation-Building/Modernization Narrative

2 Identity in Morphing: Revolutionaries’ Mass Literacy Programs in 1924–1926
 1 To Mingle: The GMD’s Literacy Initiatives in 1924 in Shanghai
  1.1 Engaging a Variety of Social Sectors: The Design of Literacy Programs in Shanghai, 1924
  1.2 Multiple Images: Adult Students and the Operation of the GMD’s Shanghai Project, 1924
 2 Creating an Assertive Voice: The GMD’s Literacy Training in Guangzhou, 1925–1926
  2.1 Reconciling Citizenship Training with Local Literacy Practices: Literacy Education in Guangzhou, 1925
  2.2 Interdepartmental Negotiations: Implementing Literacy Training in Guangzhou in 1925
  2.3 From the Local to the National: The GMD’s Literacy Program in 1926
 3 Conclusion: Social Engagement in Adult Literacy Training

3 Monopolizing the Brand: Party-States’ Competition over Adult Literacy Education, 1928–1936
 1 The Nationalist Brand and Local Practices
  1.1 The Nationalist Brand: From Ideological Alignment to State-Regulated Schooling
  1.2 Experimenting with Compulsory Mass Schooling: The Nationalist Literacy Movement in Shanghai in 1935
 2 The Communist Brand and Practices
  2.1 Comprehending Literacy within Intravillage Power Relations: The CCP’s Configuration in the Early 1930s
  2.2 Narrating Revolutionary Stories of Literacy: The CCP’s Discursive Strategies
 3 The Myth of Basic Literacy and Common Characters
  3.1 Basic Characters and Nationhood: Questionable Commonality
 4 Conclusion: Monopolizing the Brand

4 Beyond Nationalism: Mass Education in Wartime Chongqing, 1937–1945
 1 Wartime Supplementary Education in Chongqing, 1938–1940
  1.1 Learning to Behave—Wartime Literacy Training at Chongqing
  1.2 The Game of Numbers: Administering Mass Literacy Training in Chongqing, 1938–1940
  1.3 To Live: Mass Literacy Teachers in Exile
 2 Shift to Citizens Education, 1940–1945
  2.1 From Students to Teachers: Recalibrating the Administrative Focus in Citizens Education, 1940–1945
  2.2 Social Categories: The System of School Reports in Chongqing, 1941–1945
 3 Conclusion: Beyond Nationalism

5 Beyond Class and Nation: Identity in Motion during Literacy Training in Northwestern Shanxi, 1937–1945
 1 Early Experiments with Nationalistic and Class-Oriented Literacy Training
  1.1 Conceptualization of Mass Literacy Education in Northwestern Shanxi, 1940
  1.2 The Limits of Nationalistic Appeals in Winter Schools in 1940
  1.3 Village Election: The Limits to Using a Class Perspective to Restructure Rural Northwestern Shanxi, 1941
 2 Shift to the Mass Line and Literacy by Laboring People
  2.1 Working out the Mass Line: Rescaling the Purpose of Winter School, 1944
  2.2 A New Social Solidarity: the Identity of the Laboring People
 3 Conclusion: Beyond Class and Nation

6 Conclusion: Beyond Citizenship
 1 From the Desires of Membership to the Flexibility of Scale-Making
 2 From a Singular State-Society Dimension to Multiple Societal Dimensions
 3 Rights, Relationality, and the Social Self in an Authoritarian State

Appendix 1: Overlapping Characters in Selected Literacy Primers
Appendix 2: Lessons on How to Calculate Agricultural Tax
University departments, libraries, and institutes; scholars and students interested in modern China, especially those who work on educational, political, social, or cultural history of the twentieth century, and literacy scholars in general.
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