Digital history and big data are emerging as stimulating methods for historical study, particularly for scholars working on China’s imperial era. Twentieth-century Chinese history has not seen many publications in that vein as yet. In this issue of Twentieth-Century China, however, Anne Chao demonstrates one such approach: her article looks at the history of a very famous individual—Chen Duxiu—and maps the network of Anhui compatriots who surrounded him throughout his career. Visualizations of social networks, such as those she presents, offer a striking new way to consider the significance of native-place ties in Chinese history.
Feng Miao’s article examines how educational theory developed within Communist circles in the 1930s. Focusing on the work of Liu Shi, Xia Zhengnong, and Ai Siqi, Feng argues that these Communist intellectuals aimed to cultivate a new revolutionary culture and worldview among the urban working community via reading rooms and journals in which workers were encouraged to discuss social issues.
A homogenous revolutionary culture was not brought into being in 1949, as Brian DeMare shows in his detailed study of popular theater in Hubei Province in the early years of the People’s Republic of China. Actors trained before 1949 who did not retain their professional status under the Communists nevertheless continued to perform, posing as amateurs, and often attracted larger audiences than state-approved productions. The success of “rogue drama troupes,” as DeMare calls them, demonstrates how difficult it was to control the cultural realm in rural China in the decade before the Cultural Revolution.
In his wide-ranging study, Brian Tsui explores the thought and actions of Zhang Junmai (Carsun Chang) across the 1949 divide. In the years before the founding of the People’s Republic, Zhang attempted to construct a concept of Asian solidarity that might serve as an alternative vision to counter the Western-centric world order. As the Cold War progressed, however, Zhang’s anti-Communism led him to deemphasize earlier criticism of the capitalist world order, with the result that his Pan-Asianism was reduced to a vague message about the Oriental spirit. Tsui’s article surveys Zhang’s fascinating interactions with postwar leaders across Asia, including Nehru and Lee Kuan Yew.
In this issue of Twentieth-Century China, we launch a new section, Notes on Archives and Sources, which we hope will be a frequently recurring feature. Eunan O’Halpin discusses a British collection, housed in the National Archives, of diplomatic correspondence decrypted during the Second World War by British and American intelligence services. The several thousand documents that O’Halpin has sampled, from among tens of thousands [End Page 111] of such messages, reveal details of Chinese diplomacy and of world affairs that may not be documented in other extant sources.
Four book reviews round out this issue. Carol Benedict reviews Daniel Asen’s study of forensic science in early twentieth-century China. Ondřej Klimeš assesses David Brophy’s work exploring the growth of the idea of a Uyghur nation among the people of the Sino-Russian borderlands from the 1880s to the 1930s. Jonathan Lipman examines Matthew Erie’s book on the status of sharia law in the People’s Republic of China. Barry McCarron reviews Meredith Oyen’s work on the roles that transnational migrants played in United States-China relations during the Cold War. [End Page 112]