Collegiate Assistant Professor, Social Sciences
Core: Self, Culture and Society
Jake Werner is a historian of modern China with interests in the twentieth-century global history of capitalism, labor, urban space, and everyday life. He received his PhD in history from the University of Chicago. Prior to joining the Society of Fellows, he was a Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar at National Chiao-Tung University in Taiwan.
He is currently revising his dissertation into a book manuscript, Everyday Crisis and the Rise of the Masses: Life in Shanghai, 1925–1967. Focusing on working-class life in the city, the book aims to understand how “the masses” emerged as a structuring alternative to the fierce competition and chronic sense of insecurity that prevailed in interwar society. The process by which mass society coalesced into a coherent new social regime after the Communist Party took power in 1949 is explored through a close examination of new work routines in the factories, popular involvement in new political ceremonies, and leisure time in the cinemas, parks, and workers’ cultural centers. Rather than interpreting the Mao years as a “detour” on China’s path of development, this work positions China within a global reversal of social form that gave rise to bureaucratizing economies and homogenizing cultures across the postwar world.