By Tong Lam
Read Online or Download A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949 PDF
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Extra info for A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949
Indeed, during this period of social and political experiments, what arguably mattered most were not the findings of those surveys or the social facts themselves. Rather, it was how this process contributed to the training of cultural agents for the state’s civilizing and modernizing initiatives, the forging of those being surveyed and enumerated into the collective national subject, the legitimatization of social scientific investigative modalities, and, above all, the honing of the arts of governance of the emerging nation-state.
Particularly, I argue that the perceived Chinese factual deficiencies became an obsession not only for Chinese cultural and political elites; the desire to overcome this weakness also provided a new condition for the masses to make sense of their social and political existence afresh. 6 Compelled by this strong language, the late Qing regime was the first in China to embark on new census and survey projects to reconceptualize and convert its diverse populations and territories into a unified social body and geobody.
Chapter 5 continues the inquiry into surveys conducted by the Nationalist government. Here I focus on how the 1928 census was designed to imagine the nation-state as a political community marching forward in the new context of National Reconstruction (1927–37). The chapter further analyzes how social surveys and ethnological studies were used to single out and then transform social groups that were allegedly superstitious and culturally backward. The conversion of these groups from one category to another did not take place only on paper.