As I enter the fifth year of my service as editor of Twentieth-Century China, I have been working with the editorial board to arrange a transition to new leadership. Margherita Zanasi, well known to scholars of twentieth-century Chinese history, has agreed to take up the position of editor. She joined our staff as associate editor in June of last year. Her first issue as editor will be October 2019. The journal will be in great hands.
Our January number presents five research articles, a review essay, five book reviews, and an essay on a major new Chinese publication on historiography. The articles and essays appear in the print edition, included with membership in the Historical Society for Twentieth-Century China. All content, including the book reviews, is available online via Project Muse.
Working from formerly obscure sources, Zhongping Chen analyzes the activities of Kang Youwei’s second daughter, Kang Tongbi, in North American cities. Chen argues that Kang Tongbi pioneered transnational feminist organizational work among the Chinese communities of Canada and the United States but that her early achievements were not sustained due to lack of support among male political activists and a failure to broaden the leadership of the organizations beyond Kang herself.
Nagatomi Hirayama examines the interactions of Youth Party and Communist Party leaders among the Chinese in Europe in the early 1920s, arguing that key techniques of political struggle were developed in that environment. The history of hostility that developed during that period contributed to the extremism that characterized both parties over the next three decades.
Monetary policy in the 1950s is the focus of an article by Matthew Lowenstein. Focusing on local party documents from Wenzhou in Zhejiang, Lowenstein shows that officials struggled to find ways to manage how farmers employed the currency that they received for sales of grain to the state. Party committees consciously created local monetary policy and promoted rural credit cooperatives to try to prevent the use of “excess cash” for a range of unapproved black-market economic activities.
The “contest between censors and individuals over sexual representations and the desires they generated” is the subject of Y. Yvon Wang’s article. Wang argues that elements of political culture during the early People’s Republic—including self-confessions, encouragement to challenge established authority, and the spread of literacy and print media—opened some space for the discussion of sex and its manifestations. Despite its determination to stamp out “yellow” thoughts and yellow publications, the Chinese Communist Party was never able to banish erotic feelings or printed expressions of them. [End Page 1]
Yun Liu analyzes the institutional history of the Hubei provincial government in regard to environmental protection. Concern over the impact of industrialization on the environment emerged in the 1950s with ad hoc efforts to address particular issues spurred by popular outcries. In the 1970s, new offices responsible for coordinating environmental protection policy and its implementation emerged, but they remained relatively weak in the face of the imperative for economic development in subsequent decades. Liu also examines the similar organizational history of an initiative to promote biogas in Hubei.
Susanne Weigelin-Schwiedrzik contributes an assessment of Wang Xuedian’s massive Chronology of Twentieth-Century Chinese Historiography to our Notes on Archives and Sources feature. In an essay entitled “Connecting China and the West: Culture, Christianity, and the Treaty-Port Press,” Victor Zatsepine reviews four works that collectively “paint a complex portrait of China’s interactions with the West and challenge our assumptions about China and the West as fixed units of historical analysis.”
The five books reviewed in this issue examine, respectively, the history of the 1931 Yangzi flood, the attraction of Soviet culture to Chinese youth in the 1920s and later, recruitment of Shanghai youth by political organizations in the decades before 1949, the Paoge brotherhood in Sichuan during the 1940s, and the development during the 1911 Revolution of discourses and practices related to popular participation in governance. [End Page 2]