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Guilty of Indigence:
The Urban Poor in China, 1900-1953
Janet Y. Chen

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]


"In this surprising and creative book, Janet Chen shows that early twentieth-century Chinese intellectuals, officials, philanthropists, and police in China's cities came to see poverty and the poor very differently from their late imperial predecessors--with often drastic consequences for those so categorized. Meanwhile, beggars, refugees, orphans, and others not only struggled to survive, but to make themselves heard in ways that might lead to help, or at least avert punishment--and Chen captures those struggles in prose that is both poignant and analytically powerful. Sensitive to details and ever mindful of the big picture, this is social history of the highest caliber."--Kenneth Pomeranz, author of The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy

"Guilty of Indigence is a wonderful book, full of insights on the history of poverty in different regions and periods. It is both a history of the lives of the poor in twentieth-century China--on the basis of extraordinary research in Shanghai and Beijing--and an illuminating investigation into changing ideas of poverty. It will be important to historians, sociologists, and economists, and to scholars of Europe, America, and Asia."--Emma Rothschild, author of The Inner Life of Empires: An Eighteenth-Century History

"This is an important and novel book about a widespread Chinese problem: poverty. No other book profiles a social class of people, and the ideas and culture that surround them, so well and so decisively. With first-rate research and previously underutilized archival material, Guilty of Indigence completes our picture of urban China in a vital and dynamic fashion."--David Strand, Dickinson College

"This is a wonderful book, elegantly written and carefully researched. Using well-made arguments and impressive detail, it moves fluidly between the social histories of Shanghai and Beijing, and brings to life the experiences of individuals who are generally left out of historical narratives. A significant and engaging read."--Jeffrey Wasserstrom, author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know

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File created: 4/24/2017

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