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Echoes of Chongqing

Echoes of Chongqing: Women in Wartime China

Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Echoes of Chongqing
    Book Description:

    This collection of annotated oral histories records the personal stories of twenty Chinese women who lived in the wartime capital of Chongqing during China's War of Resistance against Japan during World War II. By presenting women's remembrances of the war, this study examines the interplay between oral history and traditional historical narrative, public discourse and private memories. The women interviewed came from differing social, economic, and educational backgrounds and experienced the war in a variety of ways, some of them active in the communist resistance and others trying to support families or pursue educations in the face of wartime upheaval. Their stories demonstrate that the War of Resistance had two faces: one presented by official propaganda and characterized by an upbeat unified front against Japan, the other a record of invisible private stories and a sobering national experience of death and suffering. The accounts of how women coped, worked, and lived during the war years in the Chongqing region recast historical understanding of the roles played by ordinary people in wartime and give women a public voice and face that, until now, have been missing from scholarship on the war.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09173-5
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: History, Women, and China’s War of Resistance against Japan
    (pp. 1-30)

    Although in the United States, Europe, and other parts of Asia oral history has played an important role in the study of World War II,¹ such has not been the case in the study of China and World War II, especially the study of women in China’s War of Resistance against Japan. Existing scholarly works on the Second Sino-Japanese War have tended to focus on master narratives and masculine state actors, stressing “the centrality of men’s experiences and theorizations of conflict” as the framework for the study of the war.² Relatively little scholarly attention has been paid to the oral...

  5. PART I: The War and Gender’s Social Roles
    (pp. 31-93)

    Although Poshek Fu’s 1997 study of occupied Shanghai, Joshua Fogel’s 2000 study of Japanese-captured Nanjing, and Norman Smith’s 2007 study of Japanese-controlled Manchukuo shed light on wartime life, especially intellectuals’ life in those places, we know very little about the social realities in the gmd-held wartime capital of Chongqing, especially how ordinary people made it through the war. Women’s oral histories provide much information about the social realities in wartime Chongqing and a microcosmic view of how ordinary people survived the war.

    The poor and well-to-do women’s stories in this section reveal the social divide in wartime Chongqing society. While...

  6. PART II: The War and Gender’s Economic Impact
    (pp. 94-127)

    In the West, the existing studies on China’s wartime economy and its social and political impact on the gmd-held areas have been mainly focused on the macro level.¹ While we know theoretically and abstractly that ordinary people endured tremendous economic hardship and were profoundly affected by the scarcity of goods and high inflation, we cannot put a finger on their day-to-day plight. The Chongqing women’s wartime stories in this book provide us with concrete information not only on some aspects of the region’s economic life but also on ordinary women’s economic situation and to what extent they contributed to and...

  7. PART III: The War and Gender’s Political Impact
    (pp. 128-175)

    Since the early 1980s, historiography on China’s wartime politics has evolved from Jiang Jieshi’s personal dictatorship and the ccp and gmd rivalry to state building and multiple political parties contending for power.¹ Nevertheless, most of the existing works on Chinese wartime politics were confined to a master narrative of masculine political actors, namely, the state and the political parties. As Louise Edwards pointed out in her 2007 study of the women’s suffrage movement, during the war years, women activists consciously became contenders in national politics in the Chongqing region because three decades of previous women’s suffrage movements had set up...

  8. PART IV: Women, Memory, and China’s War of Resistance against Japan
    (pp. 176-186)

    Scholars recognize that memory is constructed, not reproduced; with changes of circumstances and people’s outlook, memories change as well.¹ More importantly, the construction and reshaping of memories often serves a present need and circumstance—memories can be manipulated and are also often used as political vehicles. For example, in a study of Frederick Douglass, David Thelen argues that “Frederick Douglass fought for thirty years to keep alive among northern whites the memory of the Civil War as an emancipatory struggle. That memory, Douglass believed, was the freedmen’s best weapon for resisting southern white schemes to establish more oppressive race relations.”²...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 187-196)
  10. References
    (pp. 197-208)
  11. Index
    (pp. 209-216)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 217-220)