Organizer: Barry C. Keenan, Denison University
Chair and Discussant: Shao-qing Cai, Nanjing University
The three papers by American scholars rely on prolonged periods of archival and library research in the People's Republic of China. Their analyses pose questions framed in the context of local power: how, for example, Qing gentry managers utilized new political and educational organizations at the provincial and county levels to maintain their traditional bases of power, and fend off new contenders interested in that power. Our chair and discussant is an accomplished social historian, currently guiding twenty doctoral dissertations at the University of Nanjing. He will add a sophisticated knowledge of social change, including the activities of the emerging local chambers of commerce and arguments concerning the pre-conditions of civil society, to our political analysis of the local elite at the end of the Qing dynasty.
Traditional gentry collaborationism characterized the initial New Policies reforms, as the dynastic bond between state and society gradually came unstuck in the first decade of this century. But then the 1905 abolition of the civil service examinations combined with major administrative reforms, and made power accessible to local elites in unprecedented ways. New organizations mushroomed into existence amid open competition between old gentry and newer elites. By 1909 constitutional reforms added self-government associations to localities. In analyzing new organizations the panel will address the corporatist nature of local politics. It will also address whether a distinctively Chinese public sphere of gentry activism was being pushed to a qualitatively new stage of local management rights.
Jiangsu Local Elites and New County Schools, 1898-1911
Barry C. Keenan, Denison University
How did the local elite in Jiangsu province react to the introduction of modern education from 1898-1911? Was the rapid founding of community-funded schools in Jiangsu counties after 1905 precedent-breaking in terms of traditional state-society relations?
Sixty counties comprised the province, divided between economically core counties and peripheral counties. Analysis of gentry reactions will utilize the following local sources: (1) New county gazetteers available only in the late 1980s; (2) Publications from selected county educational associations in the first decade of the twentieth century; (3) Shen Bao newspaper articles and editorials; (4) Wenshi ziliao local recollection data; (5) The Suzhou provincial education bureau's administrative records, 1906-1910; (6) The Jiangsu Provincial Educational Association's published files, 1906-1911.
Two periods will be distinguished with an important transition in-between: (1) From 1898 to 1903 enthusiastic gentry collaboration with officials transformed pre-existing institutions into modern schools; (2) From 1906 to 1911 however, gentry sponsors of schools contended with officials, and other claimants to local resources. To gauge the level and kind of gentry initiative displayed in establishing schools, comparison will be carefully made with the campaign to found public charity schools in Jiangsu by Governor Ding Richang in the Tongzhi Restoration.
Other questions: (1) Seen from the counties, to what degree did New Policies reforms destabilize local elites and generate inter-elite conflict; (2) Were the plethora of community-funded new schools from 1905-1911 founded for the self-protection of local gentry who intended to control them? (3) Were commercialized counties less able than counties with more traditional rural economies to generate financial support for the new schools needed after 1906?
The Jiangsu Provincial Education Association in Late Qing China
Ernst Schwintzer, College of William and Mary
During the first decade of the twentieth century, the Qing central government sought to strengthen its control over local affairs by establishing semi-official associations to legitimize and regularize the activities of gentry-manager networks that had assumed control over many public functions during the nineteenth century. My paper will be a detailed study of one the most influential of these organizations, the Jiangsu Provincial Education Association. Using the extensive collection of documents, reports, and correspondence published by the association between 1906 and 1911, the paper will examine the association's activities, organization, and membership from its inception in 1905 until the 1911 Revolution, and then evaluates this information in the light of recent academic discussions on public sphere, corporatism, and state building. I expect the paper to show that even though provincial degree holders initially organized the association to unify Jiangsu's elite in defense of the province's educational resources after the abolition of the imperial examination system in 1905, the educational goals of the association's leaders made it impossible for the association to maintain that unity. The association's support of a Western-based system of education financed and managed by elected local self-government organizations inevitably brought the association into conflict with the financial and political interests of various groups, especially at the township level or below. Thus in the end, the association served more as a divisive than a unifying force among the province's local elite.
China's Local Councils in the Age of Constitutional Reform, 1905-1911
Roger Thompson, Dartmouth College
China's first Western-style council election was held in 1907 in Tianjin, a treaty port in north China. Organized by a group of officials and elites that used the German-inspired model adopted by the Japanese a decade earlier, the Tianjin model was publicized throughout China as the first step in revitalizing the political order. With councils to form the foundation of a pyramid of representative bodies at local, provincial, and metropolitan levels, local elections were seen by many as the first step in turning passive subjects into active new citizens. By 1911 officials told Beijing that more than 5,000 councils had been established in accordance with regulations promulgated in 1909. But an inattention to the corporatist nature of local politics, when combined with an implementation policy that privileged just one section of the local elite, factionalized local society and prevented the strengthening of ties between the state and local citizens. This latter point is demonstrated in part by two case studies based on documents found in the archives of the late-Qing Ministry of Interior. One concerns efforts by local elites in Suzhou City in 1907 to form a so-called self-government society as a first step in forming the foundation of a constitutional government; the other looks at conflicts between merchants and degree-holders in nearby Wujiang County during the preparations for local council elections in 1911.