By Tong Lam

ISBN-10: 0520267869

ISBN-13: 9780520267862

In this path-breaking booklet, Tong Lam examines the emergence of the “culture of truth” in glossy China, exhibiting how elites and intellectuals sought to remodel the dynastic empire right into a geographical region, thereby making sure its survival. Lam argues that an epistemological break free from conventional modes of knowing the observable international begun round the flip of the 20th century. Tracing the Neo-Confucian university of evidentiary study and the trendy departure from it, Lam indicates how, throughout the upward push of the social survey, “the truth” grew to become a uncomplicated conceptual medium and resource of fact. In targeting China’s social survey circulation, A ardour for Facts analyzes how details generated by way of more than a few examine practices—census, sociological research, and ethnography—was mobilized through competing political factions to visualize, deal with, and remake the nation.

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Extra resources for A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949

Sample text

Chabuduo has become a symbol of the failure of Chinese culture. Even decades later, the rural reformer James Yen, whose rural reconstruction project and related surveys will be discussed later in this book, lamented that the frequent use of the expression “cha bu duo” was an indication of the Chinese people’s lack of appreciation for the importance of facts and exactitude. Like other Chinese Lam, A Passion for Facts 38 / 8/18/11 12:58 PM Page 38 The Rise of the Fact intellectuals, he contended that the Chinese people were as alive as they were dead, and that the nation would never recover from its illness unless its people could get rid of their chabuduo attitude.

52 Li’s personal experience resonated with those of other Chinese social scientists.

In short, if China needed to be reconstituted in order to survive in a social Darwinist world, the people themselves had to be remade first. For the initial generation of Chinese social scientists, many of whom were trained outside China, and especially in the United States, the remedying of China’s factual deficiencies and the remaking of the Chinese people would require all Chinese to embrace scientific and rational thinking. For them, the number four hundred million, rather than being a metaphor for the potential strength of the Chinese social body, was a symbol of China’s factual deficiencies and backwardness.

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A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949 by Tong Lam


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