Provincial Patriots: The Hunanese and Modern China

In This Review

Provincial Patriots: The Hunanese and Modern China

By Stephen R. Platt
Harvard University Press, 2007
286 pp. $49.95
Purchase

Students of Chinese nationalism have usually treated provincial pride as a threat to a collective national identity. Platt, however, argues that provincial patriotism can be compatible with national identity. Indeed, in the case of Hunan loyalty, provincial identity has even contributed to greater national loyalty: The Hunanese led most of the efforts to modernize China. It was a Hunanese regional army that suppressed the Taiping Rebellion, and the Hunanese were more active than even Sun Yat-sen was in organizing the 1911 Chinese Revolution. A quarter of the first Communist Politburo was Hunanese, including Mao Zedong. Platt begins with a review of the influence that the seventeenth-century Hunanese historian Wang Fu-chih had in establishing a school of thought about Hunanese identity. The rediscovery of Wang set the stage for thinkers to champion Hunanese nationalism as a model for modern Chinese nationalism.