Grace C. Huang, "Chiang Kai-Shek's Politics of Shame: Leadership, Legacy, and National Identity in China" (Harvard UP, 2021)


Manage episode 303009573 series 2421522
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Once a powerful figure who reversed the disintegration of China and steered the country to Allied victory in World War II, Chiang Kai-shek fled into exile following his 1949 defeat in the Chinese civil war. As attention pivoted to Mao Zedong’s communist experiment, Chiang was relegated to the dustbin of history.

In Chiang Kai-shek’s Politics of Shame, Grace Huang reconsiders Chiang’s leadership and legacy by drawing on an extraordinary and uncensored collection of his diaries, telegrams, and speeches stitched together by his secretaries. She paints a new, intriguing portrait of this twentieth-century leader who advanced a Confucian politics of shame to confront Japanese incursion into China and urge unity among his people. In also comparing Chiang’s response to imperialism to those of Mao, Yuan Shikai, and Mahatma Gandhi, Grace widens the implications of her findings to explore alternatives to Western expressions of nationalism and modernity and reveal how leaders of vulnerable states can use potent cultural tools to inspire their country and contribute to an enduring national identity.

Grace Huang is professor of government at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. She likes to tackle a range of intellectual questions, including: what are the conditions in leadership that promote collective inspiration versus collective hysteria or violence? How do talented subordinates weigh their ability to modify a leader’s deleterious actions against their moral culpability of participating in those policies? How does a particular democratic ideology and culture shape the choices of working mothers, and how do such mothers make decisions about care, family, and work? Her research interests include political leadership, the political uses of shame in Chinese leadership, and gender, labor, and the family. She can be reached at

Dong Wang is distinguished professor of history and director of the Wellington Koo Institute for Modern China in World History at Shanghai University (since 2016), a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and an elected Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

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