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Kate Merkel-Hess
Penn State (University Park, PA 16802-1503)
The Warlords: Familial Relationships and Power in Modern China

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on the role of regional warlords in 20th-century Chinese politics and society.

The Warlords: Intimacy and Power in Modern China addresses the critical collapse of the Chinese Republic, founded in 1912, into rule by regional warlords. It challenges the typical story of the young republic’s disintegration and failure by examining the personal lives of the warlords and the ways their personal intimacies—of love, marriage, family, friendship, enmity, and patronage—were wrapped up in the politics of the day. It argues that factional warlords and their family members cultivated populist emotion and the intimacy of self and state through new political roles for women, new uses of media and technology, and state policies to foster civil society. Through its examinations of elite political life, The Warlords tells the story of how the political disarray of the warlord period created a space for a new politics of intimacy, shedding light on the ways that private life, intimacy, and sentiment became critical building blocks for modern China.

Project fields:
East Asian History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018