A unique comparative account of the roots of Communist revolution in Russia and China. Steve Smith examines the changing social identities of peasants who settled in St Petersburg from the 1880s to 1917 and in Shanghai from the 1900s to the 1940s. Russia and China, though very different societies, were both dynastic empires with backward agrarian economies that suddenly experienced the impact of capitalist modernity. This book argues that far more happened to these migrants than simply being transformed from peasants into workers. It explores the migrants' identification with their native homes; how they acquired new understandings of themselves as individuals and new gender and national identities. It asks how these identity transformations fed into the wider political, social and cultural processes that culminated in the revolutionary crises in Russia and China, and how the Communist regimes that emerged viewed these transformations in the working classes they claimed to represent.
Steve Smith is Professor of History at the Department of History, University of Essex. His previous publications include Like Cattle and Horses: Nationalism and Labor in Shanghai, 1895-1927 (2002), A Road is Made: Communism in Shanghai, 1920-27 (2000) and Red Petrograd: A Revolution in the Factories, 1917-18 (1983).