Guangshuo Yang’s upcoming book project is based on his award-winning dissertation, “Between the Animal Kingdom and Modern States: Animal Protectionism and the Transcultural Making of Chinese Modernity.”
His project explores the profound influence of animals on China’s modern transformation. Yang’s meticulous research uncovers how the “Life Protection Movement” shaped the country’s perception of animals. He reveals the transcultural exchanges between Chinese advocates and scientists from Japan, America, Germany, and Switzerland through various sources. Yang argues that as China embraced modernity, its focus shifted from encompassing all living creatures to emphasizing human authority.
Divisions between humans and animals emerged, forming the “anthrorepublic,” where political sovereignty relied solely on human consent. Yang examines the consequences of this division, such as the redefinition of insects as “pests” and the subordination of animal welfare to political interests. He also highlights the role of individuals like Lü Bicheng, a poetess who fused European and Chinese approaches to animal protection. Yang’s dissertation concludes by exploring the fate of animal protection under the new regime after 1949 and raises thought-provoking questions about the enduring connection between humans and animals in the present.
By reframing Chinese modernity through the lens of animal-human relations, Yang offers a compelling and nuanced perspective on the anthrorepublic’s formation.