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The Rural ModernReconstructing the Self and State in Republican China$
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Kate Merkel-Hess

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226383279

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226383309.001.0001

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To the Countryside

To the Countryside

(p.55) 2 To the Countryside
The Rural Modern

Kate Merkel-Hess

University of Chicago Press

In the late 1910s and early 1920s, intellectuals called for urban youth to go “among the people” and “to the countryside.” While reformers were interested in encouraging the remaking and “self-transformation” of their peasant reform subjects, rural reform also remade and redefined young intellectuals, who used their rural experiences to define a shared national culture with their peasant compatriots. Through examinations of foundational rural education initiatives at the Xiaozhuang School outside Nanjing and the Chinese Vocational Education Association (both spearheaded by prominent Chinese educators strongly influenced by the American progressive movement), the chapter demonstrates that young intellectuals were as focused on using their time in the countryside to remake themselves as they were concerned with remaking rural people.

Keywords:   self-transformation, intellectuals, rural reform, Chinese Vocational Education Association, Tao Xingzhi

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