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From rubble to socialism: Reconstructing Chinese cities after World War II

Bush House, Strand Campus, London

24 Jan 1920px-Flag_of_the_People's_Republic_of_China.svg (1)

Speaker: Toby Lincoln (University of Leicester)

Abstract: Chinese cities suffered massive destruction during World War II, but there is no significant research on how they were rebuilt in the conflict’s aftermath. This talk, based on a paper of the same name, demonstrates that the Nationalist Government successfully reconstructed Chinese cities after 1945. The government managed urban cleanup, infrastructure repair, and helped people rebuild their homes and businesses.

Describing the process of reconstruction highlights the importance of the immediate postwar period in contemporary Chinese history. Instead of seeing the Nationalist Government as a failure, Lincoln argues that in the face of overwhelming odds, and despite economic problems and corruption, it solved many of the problems created by years of war.

However, many problems remained, some of them exacerbated by the Civil War between the Communists and the Nationalists. This meant that when the Communists came to power in 1949, the new government was forced to impose a period of military control. It was during this period that urban reconstruction continued.

This talk and paper, therefore, reassesses the early period of Communist government and argues that it was the legacy of the war that helps to explain why China has developed an authoritarian militaristic governance style, which still survives today.

*If you are external to King's and would like to attend this event, please contact the event organiser directly.

About the speaker

Toby Lincoln is Associate Professor in Chinese Urban History at the University of Leicester. He holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford, and has published widely on 20th-century urban history and heritage.

He currently holds an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) early career research fellowship looking at how Chinese cities were reconstructed after World War II. He is also completing a textbook on Chinese urban history for publication with Cambridge University Press as part of their New Approaches to Asian History series. 


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