CALS Visiting Scholar Lecture

Friday, September 13, 2019 - 12:30 to 14:00

Kenneth Lysyk Seminar Room (114) 

"Elites, Ideology, and Revolution: Evidence from 1911 China"

Speaker: James Kai-Sing Kong, University of Hong Kong 

As important social processes, revolutions are central to human civilization and social order. Increasingly, the focus in research on revolutions has shifted from the transformation of the state and class structures catalyzed by class-based revolts to the roles played by elites and ideology as the triggering mechanisms. Using China’s 1911 Xinhai Revolution as example, we use the new elites—those who were thoroughly exposed to revolutionary ideologies while studying in Japan—to identify the causal role of ideology in triggering a series of uprisings that culminated in the revolution. We also show that by putting up with the uprisings, the traditional elites who held de facto political power were indispensable to revolutionary success and contributed importantly to the declaration of independence. Private academies established to spread the revolutionary ideologies and various printed materials (newspapers and translated books) represent the pertinent channels through which uprisings were instigated.

James Kai-Sing Kung holds the Sein and Isaac R. Souede Professorship in Economic History in the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Hong Kong. His research interests are steeped in institutions, culture and their relationships to long-term economic growth in China (so-called “deep-rooted” factors in comparative development). His publications have appeared in both economics and political science journals such as The Quarterly Journal of Economics, The American Political Science Review, The Review of Economics and Statistics and the Journal of the European Economic Association. Professor Kung is currently an elected executive member of the Association of Comparative Economics, and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Comparative Economics and Explorations in Economic History.

Light lunch provided. Please RSVP to