In January, the Columbia University Press released “Civilizing the Chinese, Competing wth the West: Study Societies in Late Qing China,” by Chen Hon Fai (Lingnan University). The publisher’s description follows:
This book explores the development of late 19th century study societies in China against the context of the decline of the imperial Qing government and its control on ideological production, widespread social unrest, and intrusions by Western imperialist states. The author uncovers the history of civil society activism in China by examining the study societies in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hunan, which were organized around the goal of promoting and defending the Confucian religion. Illustrating a facet of the civil society that emerged in China as a reaction to the influences of Christianity, the modernization of Confucianism, and nationalist state formation, this study extends understanding of the unique and complex processes of Chinese political and cultural modernization in ways that differed from that of Western societies.