Itineraries for a republic: Tourism and travel culture in modern China, 1866–1954
This dissertation is a study of the development of modern Chinese tourism and diverse experiences of travel (lüxing) in China from the last years of the Qing dynasty to the early years of the People's Republic. By looking at Chinese travelers' journeys to the West, Japan, eastern coastal China, and China's western frontiers, this study explores how travel and travel writing were not only intertwined with different nation-building projects, but also formed new ways of "worlding" China at different historical moments. More broadly, by juxtaposing varied Chinese travel experiences with Japanese exploration of China in the early twentieth century, this dissertation also examines the processes of region-making and nation-state building, processes that both reinforced and undermined each other.
After the First Opium War, Chinese elites began to look anew at China's position in the world. Beginning in the 1860s, Qing officials involved in the management of foreign affairs began to travel abroad on diplomatic missions. Their travel writing provided new vocabulary and geopolitical discourses, stimulating the discussion of reform inside and outside the Qing court. At the turn of the twentieth century, travel accounts penned by exiled reformers continued to transform Chinese travel writing from a literary form to a polemical genre. Paying attention to both the imperialist powers and the colonized spaces, they also began to envision a Chinese nation in their travel writings. During the Republican era (1912–1949), the development of the China Travel Service, the first and largest travel agency owned and run by Chinese, was closely tied to nation-building projects and region-making processes. Commercial travel writings also occupied an important place in the collective imagination of a Chinese nation-state. This imagination was undergirded by a variety of travel writings that circulated in the Chinese popular press, ranging from reports on scientific expeditions to commercial writings on leisure travels. Simultaneously, a growing number of Japanese travelers began to journey to China for leisure and professional purposes, engendering a transnational regional imagination. Examining travel and travel writing in late Qing and Republican China, this dissertation illuminates the workings of nationalism and coloniality in East Asia.