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Guilty of IndigenceThe Urban Poor in China, 1900-1953$
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Janet Y. Chen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152103

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152103.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Guilty of Indigence

Janet Y. Chen

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter briefly illustrates what life was like for the urban poor in Republican-era China. It also traces the changes in attitudes about “poverty” and the policies enacted for its alleviation, which took place in the early decades of the twentieth century in China, a critical historical juncture when new possibilities emerged for imagining the relationship between government authority and the people. The chapter reveals new insights into the lives of the urban destitute and discusses the various sources used in the course of research. Its analysis illuminates how people detained under these circumstances responded to the disciplinary project of making them into “citizens,” and how they coped with destitution in a period of deep social dislocation. Finally, the chapter concludes with a brief overview of the entire volume.

Keywords:   urban poor, urban poverty, Republican-era China, Nationalist Party, China, citizenship, social dislocation, poverty policies, twentieth-century China

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