in Hygienic Modernity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780520240018
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930605 | DOI:

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Throughout the twentieth century, weisheng became an instrumental discourse informing the Chinese elite's vision of a modern ideal, a vehicle through which they hoped state, society, and the individual would be transformed. The embrace of discourses of deficiency—and a discovery of methods for escaping this deficiency through the “awakening of the people” and the establishment of a strong state—coalesced around the term weisheng. The twentieth century began with the adoption of Japanese models to transform the city's police, hospitals, and public health. This study has traced how weisheng gained its universalizing legitimacy through the efforts of reformers under conditions of a frequently violent imperialism. Its contribution lies in outlining a history, specific to Tianjin but evocative of a larger process, of how weisheng emerged as a term used by Chinese elites both to name and to shape “the condition of their existence” in the modern world.

Keywords: weisheng; Tianjin; police; hospitals; public health; imperialism; Chinese elites

Chapter.  2649 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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