Students of Chinese nationalism have usually treated provincial pride as a threat to a collective national identity. Platt, however, argues that provincial patriotism can be compatible with national identity. Indeed, in the case of Hunan loyalty, provincial identity has even contributed to greater national loyalty: The Hunanese led most of the efforts to modernize China. It was a Hunanese regional army that suppressed the Taiping Rebellion, and the Hunanese were more active than even Sun Yat-sen was in organizing the 1911 Chinese Revolution. A quarter of the first Communist Politburo was Hunanese, including Mao Zedong. Platt begins with a review of the influence that the seventeenth-century Hunanese historian Wang Fu-chih had in establishing a school of thought about Hunanese identity. The rediscovery of Wang set the stage for thinkers to champion Hunanese nationalism as a model for modern Chinese nationalism. -- Lucian Pye Foreign Affairs 20080301Vom Verlag:
From the Taiping Rebellion in the mid-19th century to the Chinese Communist movement in the twentieth, no province in China gave rise to as many reformers, military officers, and revolutionaries as did Hunan. Stephen Platt offers the first comprehensive study of why Hunan wielded such disproportionate influence.Covering a span of eight decades, this book portrays three generations of Hunanese scholar-activists who held their provincial loyalties above their allegiances to a questionable Chinese empire. The renaissance of Hunan centred around the revival of Wang Fuzhi, a local hermit scholar from the seventeenth century whose iconoclastic writings were deemed a remarkable match for "Western" ideas of progress, humanism, and nationalism. Advocates of reform and revolution thus framed their projects as the continuance of a local tradition - the natural destiny of the Hunanese people - creating a tradition of reform and nationalism that culminated in the 1920s with a Hunanese independence movement led by the young Mao Zedong.By putting provincial Hunan at the centre of this narrative, Platt uncovers an unexpected and surprising story of modern China that sheds light on the current resurgence of regionalism in the country.
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