On May 4, 1919, thousands of students protested the Versailles
treaty in Beijing. Seventy years later, another generation
demonstrated in Tiananmen Square. Climbing the Monument of the
People's Heroes, these protestors stood against a relief of their
predecessors, merging with their own mythology while consciously
deploying their activism. Through an investigation of
twentieth-century Chinese student protest, Fabio Lanza considers
the marriage of the cultural and the political, the intellectual
and the quotidian, that occurred during the May Fourth movement,
along with its rearticulation in subsequent protest. He ultimately
explores the political category of the "student" and its making in
the twentieth century.
Lanza returns to the May Fourth period (1917-1923) and the rise
of student activism in and around Beijing University. He revisits
reform in pedagogical and learning routines, changes in daily
campus life, the fluid relationship between the city and its
residents, and the actions of allegedly cultural student
organizations. Through a careful analysis of everyday life and
urban space, Lanza radically reconceptualizes the emergence of
political subjectivities (categories such as "worker," "activist,"
and "student") and how they anchor and inform political action. He
accounts for the elements that drew students to Tiananmen and the
formation of the student as an enduring political category. His
research underscores how, during a time of crisis, the lived
realities of university and student became unsettled in Beijing,
and how political militancy in China arose only when the boundaries
of identification were challenged.
Subjects: History, Political Science
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