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State Formation in China and Taiwan with Professor Julia Strauss

January 7, 2021

On January 7th, 2021, Professor Julia C. Strauss spoke about her recently published book, State Formation in China and Taiwan: Bureaucracy, Campaign, and Performance. 

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This book is a comparative study of regime consolidation in the ‘revolutionary’ People’s Republic of China and the ‘conservative’ Republic of China (Taiwan) in the years following the communist victory against the nationalists on the Chinese mainland in 1949. Julia C. Strauss argues that accounting for these two variants of the Chinese state solely in terms of their divergent ideology and institutions fails to recognize their similarities and their relative successes.  Both, after all, emerged from a common background of Leninist party organization amid civil war and foreign invasion. However, by the mid-1950s they were on clearly different trajectories of state-building and development. Focusing on Sunan and Taiwan, Strauss considers state personnel, the use of terror and land reform to explore the evolution of these revolutionary and conservative regimes between 1949 and 1954. In so doing, she elaborates on the ways in which bureaucratic and campaign modalities of policy implementation intersected with performance, thus shedding new light on twentieth-century political change in East Asia and deepening our understanding of state formation.