Yajun MoJan 31, 2022
A History of Travel Culture, 1912-1949
Cornell University Press 2021
Taking the reader through the turbulent first half of the twentieth century, Touring China: A History of Travel Culture, 1912-1949 (Cornell UP, 2021) demonstrates the role tourism played in shaping the concept and form of the modern Chinese nation. Using travel accounts, popular magazines, and more, Yajun Mo—Assistant Professor of History at Boston College—shows state agencies, private corporations, clubs, journalists, and individual tourists used the idea of leisure travel to promote the perception of a unified China despite uncertain borders, ethnic differences, and questionable jurisdiction. Towards that end, these groups packaged the idea of China for white-collar consumption by building railways and hotels, constructing tours, and writing guides highlighting regional landmarks and cuisines as part of a complete China. Those efforts, however, all took place against an unstable political background of the Qing Dynasty’s collapse, its Nationalist successor’s struggles, and Japanese occupations. Placing early 20th century tourism in its tumultuous context, Mo highlights the contested, imaginary nature of nationalism even as government officials and patriotic individuals sought to turn it into a reality.
Bee Lehman is a history librarian at Boston College.