This unique study offers a critical perspective on political and economic modernization during a key turning point in world history. From the perspective of village activists across China, this book tells the stories of farmers and rural laborers who raised the banner of opposition to constitutional reform during the first decade of the twentieth century. The author brings to life the stories of the Camel King of Zunhua county, Qu Shiwen and the Four Mountains of Laiyang county, and many others who criticized government modernization efforts, known collectively as the New Policy. Rural dissidents viewed these reforms as anything but democratic for the majority of the rural population and its local leaders. Lines were drawn between those who gained authority from the reform process and those who organized in opposition through secular inter-village associations, secret societies, and temple networks. Analyzing global economic and political processes from the vantage point of village weavers, Buddhist priests, and others intimately connected with daily life in rural China, the author highlights the tensions between a local democracy defined by material scarcity and economic development structured by remote centers of capital. Using county archives-including oral histories-as well as memoirs, periodical literature, missionary records, and official documents both Chinese and foreign, "Of Camel Kings and Other Things" constructs, from fragmented sources, a coherent historical view vital to our understanding of China's twentieth-century crises and the dilemmas of modernity itself.
Author Biography: Roxann Prazniak is Elliot Professor of History at Hampden-Sydney Collegeand the author of "Dialogues Across Civilizations: Sketches in World History from the Chinese and European Experiences".
About the Author
Table of ContentsChapter 1 Prologue Chapter 2 Introduction Chapter 3 Anti-New Policy Rural Activism in Historical Context: Taiping and Boxer Preludes Chapter 4 Laiyang, Shandong: Qu Shiwen and the Four Mountains Chapter 5 Excerpt from Water Margin Chapter 6 Zunhua, Zhili: Camel King Wang at the Foot of the Great Wall Chapter 7 Excerpt from Three Kingdoms Chapter 8 Weiyuan, Sichuan: Heaven-Protected Liu Xiangting Among the Red Lanterns Chapter 9 Excerpt from Journey to the West Chapter 10 Lianzhou, Guangdong: The Greenwood, Tongmenghui Alliance Chapter 11 Chuansha, Jiangsu: Ding Fei and Her Vegetarian Sisterhood in Resistance to Reform Chapter 12 Conclusion Chapter 13 Epilogue Chapter 14 Glossary