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Organizer and Chair: R. Keith Schoppa, Loyola University, Maryland
Local Popular Culture and Revolution in the Chongqing Region: 19001920s
Danke Li, University of Michigan
Since 1985 new studies on popular culture in the late imperial and early Republican China have greatly enriched our understanding of modern Chinese history. However, the existing U.S. scholarship on popular culture in China has paid relatively little attention to the interaction between popular culture and the revolutionary movements of the first two decades of the twentieth century.
This paper studies the interaction of local popular culture and the revolutions of that period in the Chongqing region, China. It examines newly available sources on local primers for popular literacy, local folk stories, songs, the reformed Sichuan opera, modern drama, and local tea houses and theaters of the early 1900s. This study argues that in the Chongqing region, along with the development of a new elite political culture, a lively popular culture not only contributed to the creation and preservation of an anti-imperialist, anti-Qing and later, a pro-revolutionary sentiment, but also prepared local people for the revolutionary movements of the early 1900s. Recognizing the power of popular culture in the creation of a successful revolutionary movement, during the early 1920s local communists skillfully used local popular culture as a vehicle for revolutionary propaganda and mass mobilization. Popular culture not only contributed to the rise of local communism, but also made it more colorful, lively and understandable to local people in the region.
Why Baihua Became Guoyu: The Struggles for the Chinese National Language on the Eve of May Fourth
Boris P. Morosoli, University of Zurich
After years of cultural debates, in early republican China the thesis has come to stay that modernization of language and script was the basis for any further development of a modern Chinese state and society. Cultural and linguistic iconoclasts like Hu Shi, Chen Duxiu and Qian Xuantong openly doubted the merits and authenticity of Chinese language and script. Or, as the linguist Qian put it excessively in 1918: "If you want to abolish Confucianism, then you must first abolish the Chinese language."
Yet, the quest for a national language guoyu was a more political than only a cultural or linguistic one. The newly defined vernacular baihua, an idiom close to the northern languages, not only served as media for a new literature but also would be (ab)used as language for the whole nation.
Concerning baihua, the statement that the media was the message, seemed to be more than accurate. Promulgating baihua was not only equal to generating a new literary style but a universally new political sphere. However, the relation between baihua and a national language guoyu appears neither obvious nor conclusive. Apart from the struggles in the Conference on Unification of Pronunciation, where a linguistic secession of the south seemed to be imminent, early debates about language planning show that the avant-garde of Chinese linguists still feared the remote power of the classical language wenyan, traditional media of imperial literati. In the end, the choice of baihua as national language was only the resort to a merely democratic ruse.
The Conflict Between Mao Zedong and the "28 Bolsheviks"
Thomas Kampen, Lund University
For several decades, descriptions of the rule of the "28 Bolsheviks" have dominated Western publications on CCP history of the 1930s. "In early 1930 this group returned to China in a mission led by [the Comintern official] Mif" (John Rue, 1966) and "took over the Partys leadership positions at the Fourth Plenum in January 1931" (Kim Ilpyong, 1973). In 1933 "the Party Centre was firmly in the hands of the 28 Bolsheviks" (Jerome Chen, 1986). "Throughout the remainder of the Jiangxi period, Mao Zedong would find himself in opposition with these men" (Stuart Schram, 1983).
However, these interpretations were often based on a small number of dubious sources and suffered from a lack of biographical data concerning the "28 Bolsheviks" and other leading CCP members. Since the late 1970s Chinese historians have published numerous collections of CCP documents and detailed accounts of Party history, including book-length biographies of major "bolsheviks" (Wang Ming, Wang Jiaxiang, Zhang Wentian), as well as Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai.
These new sources indicate that in January 1931 there was no "takeover" of the Central Party leadership by the "28 Bolsheviks" and no direct confrontation with Mao Zedong. In my paper, I will discuss the return of the "Bolsheviks" from Moscow, the Fourth Plenum (1931), the transfer of the "Bolsheviks" to the Jiangxi Soviet and the Zunyi Conference (1935).
Struggle for Survival: Sino-Japanese War Fought in a Local Arena, Zouping, 193745
Zhijia Shen, University of Colorado, Boulder
Distinguished from many existing studies of the Sino-Japanese war (193745), which largely focus on the major political powers, the CCP, the KMT, and the Japanese, this paper examines the rural locality, where most of the protracted war of resistance was fought, and how the local society responded to the CCPs penetration, the KMT war efforts, and the Japanese occupation. Viewing the process from the perspective of the local populace, this paper intends to recreate the political environment at the most basic levels.
The war-time history of Zouping of Shandong Province presents a colorful picture of an arena of human struggle in North China in response to a foreign war. In this bloody conflict, people frequently had to be very creative and flexible in order to survive. The situation was one of shifting coalitions, alliances, and vendettas among paramilitary groups of villages or marketing towns and even among factions within each group. Groups frequently changed their affiliation; relations among them alternated from allegiances to concealed struggles to open hostility. A persons decision to side with a particular group was affected by such factors as personal-relation networks, parochialism, and individual motivations and perceptions about how particular political and military decisions might affect family survival strategies.
Through detailed presentation of how individuals fared and behaved during the war and what their survival strategies were, be it resistance or collaboration, this paper finds that, instead of peasant nationalism, patriotism, or heroism, it was mostly pragmatism, sometimes even opportunism, that played the essential role in the survival strategies of individuals.