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Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy Workshop featuring Junyan Jiang – From Kins to Comrades: Rural Clan Society and the Rise of Communism in China
November 30, 2022 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Speaker: Junyan Jiang, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
A key paradox of social revolutions of the 20th century is that despite their radical, modernist claims, success often hinges on effective mobilization of the peasantry, who are typically conservative and inward-looking. This paper studies how traditional networks and cleavages within rural society can be creatively adapted by movement entrepreneurs to generate revolutionary impetus. Using newly digitized data on family genealogies and over half a million revolutionary participants from 637 armed uprisings led by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), we study how CCP organizers’ local clan affiliations affect mobilization outcomes during the incipient stage of the revolution (1927–1936). Triple-difference estimates suggest that local organizers instigated a significant number of co-clan members to join uprisings and the effect is more salient for organizers from larger clans. We also find that uprisings led by members of dominant clans are more likely to succeed, and that clan-based mobilization capitalized on both intra-clan solidarity and inter-clan animosity. These findings underscore a subtle yet significant linkage between agrarian institutions and modern revolutions and help reconcile several longstanding debates about the rise of Chinese communism.
Junyan Jiang studies comparative politics and political economy, focusing on the politics of elites, organizations, and ideas. Some of his current research projects explore the formation and transformation of political elite networks in China, the interplay between formal rules and informal power in bureaucratic systems, and the dynamics of ideology in changing societies. His work has been published in American Journal of Political Science, British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, Journal of Public Economics, and Journal of Development Economics, among others. He has received the 2020 Gregory Luebbert Article Award for the best article in comparative politics from the American Political Science Association (APSA), and honorable mentions for the 2016 Sage Paper Award for the best paper presented at APSA Annual Meetings and the 2018 Mancur Olson Award for the best dissertation in political economy.
Prior to joining Columbia, he taught at Chinese University of Hong Kong and held a postdoctoral fellowship at University of Pennsylvania. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago.