Revolutionary Nativism

Fascism and Culture in China, 1925-1937

Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 26 illustrations Published: April 2017

Author: Maggie Clinton

Asian Studies > East Asia, History > Asian History

In Revolutionary Nativism Maggie Clinton traces the history and cultural politics of fascist organizations that operated under the umbrella of the Chinese Nationalist Party (GMD) during the 1920s and 1930s. Clinton argues that fascism was not imported to China from Europe or Japan; rather it emerged from the charged social conditions that prevailed in the country's southern and coastal regions during the interwar period. These fascist groups were led by young militants who believed that reviving China's Confucian "national spirit" could foster the discipline and social cohesion necessary to defend China against imperialism and Communism and to develop formidable industrial and military capacities, thereby securing national strength in a competitive international arena. Fascists within the GMD deployed modernist aesthetics in their literature and art while justifying their anti-Communist violence with nativist discourse. Showing how the GMD's fascist factions popularized a virulently nationalist rhetoric that linked Confucianism with a specific path of industrial development, Clinton sheds new light on the complex dynamics of Chinese nationalism and modernity.


"Historian Clinton offers an insightful analysis of what she sees as China’s fascist movement after the ascendance of Chiang Kai-shek in the political arena. Highly recommended."  — P. F. Shan, Choice

“A thought-provoking study that raises new questions.” — Anna Belogurova, Pacific Affairs

Revolutionary Nativism is persuasive and well written, and challenges us to rethink the political culture of interwar China. . . . A must-read not only for scholars of Chinese history, but also for those wanting to understand the workings of fascism in a transnational perspective." — Reto Hofmann, Journal of Asian Studies

"Maggie Clinton has opened up an important new strand in our understanding of the political and intellectual history of 20th-century China. Revolutionary Nativism is a powerful book that will shape debates for years to come." — Rana Mitter, The China Quarterly

"Fascinating and intriguing. . . . Revolutionary Nativism is an important contribution not only for taking fascism in East Asia seriously, but also for making us rethink the role of state led modernity via moralization of the everyday." — Marc Andre Matten, International Journal of Asian Studies

"Maggie Clinton's book, written in luminous prose, succeeds brilliantly in embedding the development of 1920s and 1930s Chinese right-wing nativist thought and practice in complex domestic and global milieus. Weaving together discussions of culture critique and nativist defense, of political consolidation and economic upheaval, as well as of military strategy and ordinary violence, Revolutionary Nativism reveals the grassroots sources and everyday appeal of fascist social analysis and activism. A compelling account with deep resonance for our contemporary moment." — Rebecca E. Karl, New York University

"An important contribution, Revolutionary Nativism shows how a strain of fascism in early twentieth-century China attempted to mold a vast and preindustrial country into a modern nation-state. Maggie Clinton tells this story with critical insight and historical sympathy, helping to enrich our understanding of fascism in China and central issues in Chinese modernity." — Xiaobing Tang, author of Chinese Modern: The Heroic and the Quotidian


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Maggie Clinton is Assistant Professor of History at Middlebury College.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction  1
1. Hiding in Plain Sight: Fascist Factions during the Nanjing Decade  23
2. Spirit is Eternal: Cultural Revolution from the Right  64
3. Spiritual Offenses: The Nativist Prose of Counterinsurgency  98
4. Fixing the Everyday: The New Life Movement and Taylorized Modernity  128
5. Literature and Arts for the Nation  161
Conclusion  191
List of Characters for Selected Romanized Terms  201
Notes  205
Bibliography  239
Index  255
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6377-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6362-0
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