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Self-government and 1911 in China: Revolution or Continuity in the Political Participation in Sichuan Province?

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image of Ming Qing Yanjiu

The process that led to the creation of self-government organs, and their activities in the first years of their existence, shows a consistent continuity between the imperial and the republican institutions, but also some changes in the institutional behaviour of the representatives of the local communities before and after the 1911’s revolution. The different meaning attributed to the institutional reforms as they appear to have been interpreted by the Qing Court, from the interpretations by the local society - a tools to control the political activism of the local notables vs a means to play a more active role in the local policy -, did not interfere with the creation of the organs of self-government, a part of the new structure to be built for the constitutional monarchy scheduled through imperial edicts on 27th August, 1908. The local activism and activities, as they are illustrated for Sichuan province through provincial and county archive documents, local gazetteers and reviews, show contradictory tendencies even as relates to some officials, and part of local communities anticipating sometimes the dispositions by the central government for the implementations of self-government, and some resistance by the people who had the right to vote in the participation to the preparatory process for the poll. However, the flourishing of self-government councils of the lower level and the fields of their interventions as representatives of the local communities show a very positive attitude on part of the local communities that continued until Yuan Shikai closed them down in 1914. This study will be concentrating on this aspect and will include, among other things, the case-study of Xuanhan county in north-western Sichuan, where a powerful local lineage played a very relevant role, taking advantage of the disruption of the provincial institutional order.


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