1919 in dynamic East Asia: March First and May Fourth as a starting point for revolution

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The March First Movement and the May Fourth Movement are like mirrors reflecting each other’s relationship. This article uses the concept of “simultaneity” in global history to reevaluate the significance of both events in world history. It also examines the differences exhibited by the simultaneity of the two events from the perspective of an “interconnected East Asia.” After entering the world-system, imperial Japan, semi-colonial China, and colonial Korea occupied different positions within its hierarchical structure. Here we need to pay attention to the status-diverse but mutually influential conditions in East Asia. To see through the complexity of (semi)colonial modernity and find the inherent opportunities to overcome modernity, it is useful to analyze the “double project” of adapting to modernity and overcoming modernity. Since the 1920s, the two events have been continually reinterpreted in the vein of socio-historical changes. The question of how to remember the two is not only a historical question but also a practical question for the present. Now is truly the methodological turning point in exploring and reinterpreting the two events. The author will use the terms “March First Revolution” and “May Fourth Revolution” in an attempt to tackle this issue. The mass gatherings that took place during March First and May Fourth provide sufficient evidence to support the use of “revolution” to describe them. Although March First and May Fourth are part of two respective histories of Korea and China, at the same time they are part of East Asia’s and the world’s interconnected history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-291
Number of pages15
JournalChinese Studies in History
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Oct 2

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History


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