May 28th, Xiao Tie: Inside of the Crowd: Inquiring Qunzhong in Republican China

Art and Politics of East Asia Workshop presents

 Inside of the Crowd: Inquiring Qunzhong in Republican China

 Tie Xiao
Ph.D. Candidate
East Asian Languages and Civilizations
University of Chicago

Saul Thomas, Respondent

(PhD Candidate, Anthropology/History, University of Chicago)

May 28th (Friday) 

3:00-5:00 p.m.

Judd Hall 313

5835 South Kimbark Avenue

Chicago, IL 60637


My dissertation studies various modes in which crowds were conceptualized and represented as well as their different aesthetic and political implications in early twentieth-century China. This chapter examines the rise of the discourse of crowd psychology in China. The decades from the 1910s to 1930s witnessed the expansion of the political field, as manifested in the incessant strikes and other mass demonstrations by an increasingly organized populace. The social phenomenon of the crowd fascinated modern Chinese intellectuals of a variety of ideological positions and political affiliations and became a mysterious object of various political, psychological and sociological investigations. Is there a reenergizing of consciousness in the moment of crowding or merely collective delusion? Is the action of crowding together a manifestation of self-awakening and self-determination or just a showcase of blind craze and primitive passions? What is the dimension of “in-common” that makes the crowd the mode of existence of being-in-common and, more pertinently, does this dimension of “in-common” qualify or disqualify the crowd as the source of political agency and authority? To answer these questions and understand the behavioral surface of “crowd phenomena,” Chinese crowd theorists studied the psychological interiority of the crowd mind and responded to the imported theories of crowd psychology by such authors as Gustav Le Bon, Gabriel Tarde, William McDougall, and Everett Dean Martin. Through interacting with the transnational flow of crowd concepts, the new understanding of qunzhong as a socio-psychological category and concomitant political implications arose and circulated.

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Faculty sponsors: Michael Bourdaghs, Paola Iovene 

The workshop is sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies and the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences. Persons with a disability who believe they may need assistance, please contact Ji Young Kim ( or Ling Zhang (


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