The B13 project investigates the development of institutions and forms of legitimate governance to address internal streams of refugees and migrants in the northern Chinese cities of Tianjin and Qingdao during the transition from Republican China to the socialist People’s Republic between 1945 and 1957. After 1949, the newly founded socialist state, employing new methods and technologies such as household registers, political campaigns, and governmental relief work, was able to tackle the refugee crisis rooted in World War II rather quickly. Still, this came at the price of significant political vulnerability and centralization. The B13 project traces and analyses fundamental changes in institutions of governance by examining specific agencies of disaster relief and their support and control of refugees. The chosen cities represent Chinese urban space in general during the period under investigation. At the same time, comparing Tianjin to Qingdao enables us to point more clearly to social, economic, and administrative variation rooted to a large degree in the different colonial histories of the two cities. Tianjin represents the “semi-colonial” treaty port while Qingdao stands for formal colonialism, first under German, then under Japanese rule.
The aim of our project is threefold. First, we analyze the different initial situations and their respective influence on the developing institutions and modes of governance, the mechanisms of rule, and the employed instruments of control. Second, we ask how the effectiveness of the measures to solve the refugee crisis influenced the legitimacy of the various actors and the consolidation of statehood, especially after 1949. Third, our project studies processes of adoption and rejection in these transitory societies and constellations of governance.