The problems of Gung Ho: Rewi Alley and the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (CIC) Movement, 1938 – 2021


There is some truth in the several legends built around Rewi Alley’s life in China, but also a good deal of inaccuracy, even untruth. This applies particularly to representations of Alley’s role in the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (CIC), or ‘Gung Ho’, movement. There are the numerous hagiographic celebrations of Alley as the creator and builder of the movement.  Less common are the accounts that judge the CIC movement to have been an abject failure, almost from its inception; they tend to depict Alley as a likeable but bumbling "good Kiwi bloke" who was way out of his depth when tossed unwittingly into the maelstrom of China's war with Japan.

This presentation will reassess the CIC Movement and Rewi Alley's role in it by situating it in the context of the pre-war rural reconstruction experiments in Republican China.  It aims to understand CIC as a Chinese movement in which some foreign philanthropists became involved, although largely at the movement's margins.

About the Speaker

Dr Pauline Keating lectured in Chinese history in the History Programme at Victoria from 1989 and until her retirement in 2013.  Her research interests relate to the thorny issue of ‘China and Democracy’ and to rural reform and revolution in China in the 20th century.  She is working on a book-length study of ‘Rural Reconstruction’ movements in Republican China; it will give close attention to the various experiments with rural cooperatives by both the Communist and non-Communist reformers in the 1930s and ‘40s.

Date: Thursday 28 October
5-6 pm
AM103, Kelburn Campus
In-person attendance:  
Register Here Online attendance:  Zoom Link