In this path-breaking book, Tong Lam examines the emergence of the "culture of fact" in modern China, showing how elites and intellectuals sought to transform the dynastic empire into a nation-state, thereby ensuring its survival. Lam argues that an epistemological break away from traditional modes of understanding the observable world began around the turn of the twentieth century. Tracing the Neo-Confucian school of evidentiary research and the modern departure from it, Lam shows how, through the rise of the social survey, 'the fact' became a basic conceptual medium and source of truth. In focusing on China's social survey movement, "A Passion for Facts" analyzes how information generated by a range of research practices - census, sociological investigation, and ethnography - was mobilized by competing political factions to imagine, manage, and remake the nation.
Tong Lam is Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto.
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Introduction 1. The Rise of the Fact and the Reimagining of China 2. From Divide and Rule to Combine and Count 3. Foolish People versus Soulstealers 4. The Nationalization of Facts and the Affective State 5. Time, Space, and State Effect 6. China as a Social Laboratory Epilogue Notes Glossary Bibliography Index