Knowledge, Power, and Networks

Elites in Transition in Modern China


In the past decades, the world has watched the rise of China as an economic and military power and the emergence of Chinese transnational elites. What may seem like an entirely new phenomenon marks the revival of a trend initiated at the end of the Qing. The redistribution of power, wealth and knowledge among the newly formed elites matured during the Republican period.
This volume demonstrates both the difficulty and the value of re-thinking the elites in modern China. It establishes that the study of the dynamic tensions within the elite and among elite groups in this epochal era is within reach if we are prepared to embrace forms of historical inquiry that integrate the abundant and even limitless historical resources, and to engage with the rich repertoire of digital techniques/instruments available and question our previous research paradigms.
This renewed approach brings historical research closer to an integrative data-rich history of modern China.

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Cécile Armand, Aix-Marseille University, completed her Ph.D. devoted to a spatial history of advertising in modern Shanghai at the École Normale Supérieure of Lyon, France (2017). She is the author of several articles on advertising in modern China and digital history and the creator of a digital research platform (

Christian Henriot, Aix-Marseille University, is the author and editor of several books on modern Chinese history, including Prostitution and Sexuality in Shanghai. A Social History, 1849-1949 (Cambridge UP, 2001, Scythe and the City. A Social History of Death in Shanghai (1865-1965) (2016, Stanford UP), and The Population of Shanghai (1865-1953). A Sourcebook (Brill, 2018).

Sun Huei-min, Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, received her Ph.D. degree in history from National Taiwan University. Her research interests include socio-cultural history, legal history, urban history, and the history of education. She is the author of Institutional Transplantation: The Chinese Lawyers in Republican Shanghai (1912-1937) (in Chinese, Institute of Modern History, 2012).
List of Figures and Tables

1 Introduction: Knowledge, Power, and Networks — Elites in Transition in Modern China
Christian Henriot, Cécile Armand, and Sun Huei-min

2 Who Are Elites? Elite Distinction and Who’s Who Publications in Early 20th-Century China
Sun Huei-min

3 X-Boorman: The Biographical Dictionary of Republican China in the Digital Age
Cécile Armand and Christian Henriot

4 Middling Elites: Middle Managers and Bank Professionals at the Shanghai Bank of China on the Eve of the Communist Revolution
Brett Sheehan

5 Structures of Empowerment: A Network Exploration of Women Activists’ Collective Biographies in 20th-Century China
Henrike Rudolph

6 “Service to the Empire and to the Community”: The British Women’s Association in Shanghai, 1921–51
Ling-ling Lien

7 Revolutionary Roads: An Integrative Analysis Utilizing a Chinese Biographical Database
Marilyn Levine

8 Foreign Clubs with Chinese Flavor: The Rotary Club of Shanghai and the Politics of Language
Cécile Armand

9 The American-Returned Students: Educational Networks and New Forms of Business in Early Republican China
Peter E. Hamilton

10 Navigating between Political Authorities: Chinese Rockefeller Fellows in Biology and Chemistry and Their Career Trajectories from 1949 to 1966
Yi-Tang Lin

Scholars, students, and institutes with an interest in the history of China and the history of elites, in particular historians, specialists of political science and sociology.
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