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Kathryn Merkel-Hess F'09, F'08

Kathryn Merkel-Hess

Assistant Professor
History
Pennsylvania State University
last updated: 08/21/14

Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowships 2009
Department: History
University of California, Irvine
A New People: The Chinese Rural Modern in History

The renewed interest in the countryside among Chinese intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s resulted in hundreds of “Rural Reconstruction” projects. Reformers from diverse backgrounds moved to rural areas to implement their reforms, sharing their ideas for a remade Chinese countryside through the growing popular press. In tracing the development of the rural reform movement from 1895 to 1956, this project shows that the agenda for rural modernization was not tied to a particular political agenda but was instead a reconfiguration of traditional ways of engaging the countryside. In international Shanghai, “modernity” was that which was foreign and new, but it was the “rural modern” that captured the desire of the Chinese people for a modernity rooted in the Chinese past.

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2008
Doctoral Candidate
Department: History
University of California, Irvine
A New People: Rural Modernity in Republican China

The renewed interest in the countryside among Chinese intellectuals in the 1920s and 1930s resulted in hundreds of “Rural Reconstruction” projects. Reformers from diverse backgrounds tackled rural problems through reform and outreach, sharing their ideas for a remade Chinese countryside through the growing popular press. By tracing the development of the rural reform movement, this project explores the emerging “rural modern,” arguing that the agenda for rural modernization in the decades prior to the 1949 Communist Revolution was not Nationalist or Communist but instead a reconfiguration of traditional ways of engaging the countryside. In shaping plans for rural modernization in the 1930s, reformers had a lasting impact on rural policies and Chinese visions of a modern countryside.