Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, History and Asian Studies, Furman University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2006
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign
Communications Matrix: State-Making and Nation-Building in the Modern Chinese Postal Service, 1896-1949

My project examines the relationship between communications and the nation-state by understanding the modem Chinese Postal Service as a central vehicle for the twin processes of state-making and nation-building for the late imperial, warlord, and Nationalist governments from 1896-1949. State-making will be understood as territorial delineation, the creation of sovereignty, attaining legitimacy, establishing authority, and bureaucratizing and rationalizing administration. Chapters 1-4 will discuss the growth and expansion of Postal Service administration, infrastructure, customer services, and personnel system to determine how the government created the Postal Service as an efficiently functioning bureaucracy serving the needs of its citizens as well as its own state-making goals. Nation-building, by contrast, will be understood as encouraging the population to identify with the nation, to encourage individual participation in the nation, and to increase commitment and loyalty to the national entity. In Chapters 5-8 I will analyze the amount of material sent through the mails, the creation of an imagined community and vibrant public sphere, cultural representations of the Postal Service, and the state role in facilitating the creation of transnational Chinese communities. These chapters will demonstrate that the Postal Service fostered the creation of an imaginary of the nation. As China entered the modem nation-state system, the Postal Service played a crucial role in contributing to a vast number of historical processes necessary for the successful creation of modem Chinese nation-state. I will conduct archival research at the Second Historical Archives in Nanjing, China, to demonstrate that the Postal Service was an organic communications matrix contributing profoundly to a wide variety of top-down and bottom-up political, social, and cultural processes related to state-making and nation-building in modem China.