Like Cattle and Horses: Nationalism and Labor in Shanghai, 1895-1927 (Comparative & International Working-Class History)

Like Cattle and Horses: Nationalism and Labor in Shanghai, 1895-1927 (Comparative & International Working-Class History)

By: S. A. Smith (author)Paperback

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In Like Cattle and Horses Steve Smith connects the rise of Chinese nationalism to the growth of a Chinese working class. Moving from the late nineteenth century, when foreign companies first set up factories on Chinese soil, to 1927, when the labour movement created by the Chinese Communist Party was crushed by Chiang Kai-shek, Smith's study uses a host of documents - journalistic accounts of strikes, memoirs by former activists, police records - to argue that a nationalist movement fuelled by the effects of foreign imperialism had a far greater hold on working-class identity than did class consciousness alone. While the massive wave of labour protest in the 1920s was principally an expression of militant nationalism rather than of class consciousness, Smith argues, elements of a precarious class identity were in turn forged by the very discourse of nationalism. By linking work-related demands to the defence of the nation, anti-imperialist nationalism legitimised participation in strikes and sensitised workers to the fact that they were worthy of better treatment as Chinese citizens. Smith shows how workers' refusal to be treated "like cattle and horses" (a line from an anonymous worker's poem on poor working conditions) derived from a new but powerfully felt sense of dignity. In short, nationalism enabled workers to interpret the anger they felt at their unjust treatment in the workplace in political terms and to create a link between their position as workers and as members of an oppressed nation. By focusing on the role of the working class, Like Cattle and Horses is one of very few studies that examines nationalism "from below" and that acknowledges the powerful agency of the non-elite. Like Cattle and Horses will interest historians of labour, modern China, and nationalism, as well as those engaged in the study of revolutions and revolt.

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About Author

Steve Smith is Professor of History at the University of Essex, England. He is the author of A Road Is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920 1922; Red Petrograd: Revolution in the Factories, 1917 18; and coeditor of Notes of a Red Guard.



Contents: Traditional social networks and identities Nationalist and labor protest at the end of the Qing dynasty The 1911 revolution in Shanghai Nationalist and labor protest, 1913-19 The May Fourth Movement of 1919 The discourse of class The Communists attempt to organize labor. 1920-23 Workers and the nation: Left versus Right, 1923-25 The May Thirtieth Movement, 1925 National and class identities, 1925-27 The surge in labor organization, 1927 Climax of the National Revolution, March-April 1927

Product Details

  • publication date: 01/03/2002
  • ISBN13: 9780822327936
  • Format: Paperback
  • Number Of Pages: 384
  • ID: 9780822327936
  • weight: 640
  • ISBN10: 0822327937

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