Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Timothy Weston

Second Advisor

Holly Gayley

Third Advisor

Kwangmin Kim


Although southwestern China was chaotic politically and economically in the warlord era (1910-1938), Sichuanese warlords became primary actors in many municipal modernization projects. This thesis argues that Sichuanese warlords' engagement with new Republican values and modernity manifested itself in many modernization projects and promoted a new idea of the government's role in society and in the creation of public spaces. By redefining warlordism outside of a national narrative, this thesis reframes Sichuanese warlords not as "stagnators" of national progress or simply a residual effect of the collapse of the Qing dynasty, but at times as creators, promoters, and sometimes advocates of modernity. Although many warlord municipal modernization projects were not successful in Sichuan, they display how new Republican values did not need nationalized administrative implementation or direct foreign influence, but rather these values grew organically out of new ideas of modernity, echoing similar changes in many parts of Chinese society.