The Transformation of Peasant Associations: Multiple Endeavors Towards Rural Modernity

Hekang Yang, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University

Thesis was completed in November 2016.


This study of peasant associations in Zhuji County of Zhejiang Province examines rural mobilizations and rural youth’s internalization of modernity in early twentieth century China. Under the capricious political patterns, the functions of the peasant association changed dramatically. It was an agricultural promotion agency answering to the early Republican state and later became a tool of revolutionaries to foment revolutions against the government in the countryside. The peasant association included various stakeholders, such as the state, local elites, youth, and other ordinary rural people, so that it can be used as a vehicle to understand the stakeholders’ involvement with rural modernity with respect to agricultural promotion, nation-building, and mass mobilizations. My research answers three questions: Why did the peasant association undergo such transformation within a decade in the 1920s? Who transformed it and how did they do so? What is its significance in terms of Chinese modernity?