Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 1-6

Contents

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pp. vii-8

Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiii

A first book is the occasion for acknowledging inspiration, help, and support over the years that led, often in circuitous ways, to this moment. My sincere thanks first go to the members of my original dissertation committee at the University of Chicago: Prasenjit Duara,Guy Alitto,Tetsuo Najita, and Jan Goldstein.Without their critical insights, patience, and constant support, this project would have never...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

We take it for granted that the gathering of social facts is indispensable to everyday life, and even more so when it comes to governance. From United Nations yearbooks to U.S. Gallup polls, governments and institutions constantly occupy themselves with facts, so much so that some have referred to the contemporary world as a fact-based society. In recent years the Chinese government, too, has begun...

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1. The Rise of the Fact and the Reimagining of China

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pp. 15-49

When Mao Zedong, the leader of the Chinese Communist Party,wrote about the importance of “seeking truth fromfacts” in guiding the Communist revolution in 1941, he was describing a brief that was already widely shared by Chinese intellectuals froma broad political spectrum. For them, political and military solutions were insufficient in themselves to address the social dislocation and political breakdown caused...

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2. From Divide and Rule to Combine and Count

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pp. 50-72

When the Manchus defeated the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) in the seventeenth century, they not only acquired additional populations and territories, but they also inherited perhaps the most sophisticated bureaucratic apparatus in the early modern world.1 The existing Chinese bureaucracy and its governing ideology was indeed indispensable to fostering and maintaining a self-proclaimed universal...

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3. Foolish People versus Soulstealers

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pp. 73-90

Shortly before midnight on May 19, 1910, hundreds of villagers, beating drums and shouting vulgar words, burst into the home of He Mingdao. They demanded that He, an appointed census taker for the ongoing national census, hand over the register that contained their stolen souls. When the villagers found out that He had already sent the register to the county police headquarters, they began to loot and demolish his home. Fortunately, He and his family survived the...

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4. The Nationalization of Facts and the Affective State

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pp. 91-116

On April 15, 1932, the archaeological fieldworkers from the national government who were working about a kilometer east ofWuguang village in Anyang county, Henan province, knew that they were onto something important when they observed the soil color as well as the ceramic remains nearby.1 They had every reason to believe that this was one of the many sites that could help historians confirm the existence of the Shang dynasty (1576–1046 b.c.e.) with concrete...

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5. Time, Space, and State Effect

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pp. 117-141

In July 1928, shortly after the Nationalist regime consolidated its military control over a crucial part of China and reestablished its capital in Nanjing, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Neizhengbu) officially called for a national census to be completed by the end of the year. According to the official plan, the census was to be carried out by local authorities based on guidelines and census forms...

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6. China as a Social Laboratory

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pp. 142-170

“No investigation, no right to speak,” Mao Zedong declared in 1941.1 Although this comment was a response to the skeptics within the Communist Party who questioned his fixation on the Chinese peasantry as the driving force for China’s revolution, the statement also revealed the tremendous faith of a generation of Chinese intellectuals and political elites in social survey research as a guide...

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Epilogue

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pp. 171-172

In 1978, when Deng Xiaoping announced his “Four Modernizations” project, launching China into a period of unprecedented economic growth, he stated that the party and the people must follow the principle of “emancipating the mind, seeking truth from facts” (jiefang sixiang, shishi quishi) to further develop the nation.1 At the same time, new social science academies designed to serve...

Notes

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pp. 173-222

Glossary

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pp. 223-226

Bibliography

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pp. 227-252

Index

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pp. 253-263