5 pages essay

Question Description

Answer the following questions, based on your reading of Growing Up in the People’s Republic: Conversations Between Two Daughters of China’s Revolution, by Ye Weili with Ma Xiaodong. (Please note that Chinese names are written in the order that family name precedes given name, so the authors should be referred to as Ye and Ma, not Weili and Xiaodong.)

You should incorporate your answers into a coherent, original argument, and analyze the evidence from the book that supports your argument. You may also use secondary source material from Schoppa and Meisner, as well as the PBS documentary China: A Century of Revolution. No sources outside the assigned readings are necessary, but feel free to draw from other primary source material (Lu Xun, Mao Zedong, Wang Shiwei, etc) to support your claim.

Your essay should be five pages in length, double-spaced. Remember to document all non-original ideas in your essay, by means of using quotations with footnotes.

The essay is due on Turnitin (on myCourses, Content section)

  • Analyze the role of women as crucial actors in the history of twentieth-century China. How do perceptions and self-perceptions of women change over the course of the twentieth century? What role did they play in the Communist revolution and Cultural Revolution? In what way does gender help produce and maintain power structures of society?

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Growing Up in The People’s Republic shuyu_yan@sina.com Palgrave Studies in Oral History Series Editors: Linda Shopes and Bruce M. Stave Sticking to the Union: An Oral History of the Life and Times of Julia Ruuttila, by Sandy Polishuk; Foreword by Amy Kesselman (2003) To Wear the Dust of War: An Oral History, by Samuel Iwry, edited by Leslie J. H. Kelley (2004) Education as My Agenda: Gertrude Williams, Race, and the Baltimore Public Schools, by Jo Ann O. Robinson (2005) Remembering: Oral History Performance, edited by Della Pollock (2005) Postmemories of Terror: A New Generation Copes with the Legacy of the “Dirty War,” by Susana Kaiser (forthcoming) Growing Up in The People’s Republic: Conversations between Two Daughters of China’s Revolution, by Ye Weili with Ma Xiaodong (forthcoming) Creating Choice: A Community Responds to the Need for Abortion and Birth Control, 1961–1973, by David P. Cline (forthcoming) Life and Death in the Delta: African American Narratives of Violence, Resilience, and Social Change, by Kim Lacy Rogers (forthcoming) Voices from This Long Brown Land: Oral Recollection of Owens Valley Lives and Manzanar Pasts, by Jane Wehrey (forthcoming) In the Wake of Kent State: Campus Rhetoric and Protest at the University of Nevada, by Brad Lucas (forthcoming) Sisters in the Brotherhoods: Organizing for Equality, by Jane Latour (forthcoming) shuyu_yan@sina.com Growing Up in The People’s Republic Conversations between Two Daughters of China’s Revolution Ye Weili with Ma Xiaodong shuyu_yan@sina.com GROWING UP IN THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC © Ye Weili with Ma Xiaodong 2005. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. First published in 2005 by PALGRAVE MACMILLAN™ 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010 and Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England RG21 6XS Companies and representatives throughout the world. PALGRAVE MACMILLAN is the global academic imprint of the Palgrave Macmillan division of St. Martin’s Press, LLC and of Palgrave Macmillan Ltd. Macmillan® is a registered trademark in the United States, United Kingdom and other countries. Palgrave is a registered trademark in the European Union and other countries. ISBN 978-1-4039-6996-5 DOI 10.1057/9781403982070 ISBN 978-1-4039-8207-0 (eBook) Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Ye Weili. Growing up in the People’s Republic : conversations between two daughters of China’s revolution / by Ye Weili with Ma Xiaodong. p. cm.—(Palgrave studies in oral history) ISBN 978-1-4039-6996-5 1. China—History—Cultural Revolution, 1966–1976—Personal narratives. 2. Ye Weili. 3. Ma Xiaodong. I. Title: Conversations between two daughters of China’s revolution. II. Ma Xiaodong. III. Title. IV. Series. DS778.7.W445 2005 951.05⬘6—dc22 2005048676 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Design by Newgen Imaging Systems (P) Ltd., Chennai, India. First edition: December 2005 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 shuyu_yan@sina.com To my mother Bai Tian and my father Fang Shi, whose path is my legacy; to my son Yuanyuan, may mine be his. shuyu_yan@sina.com Ya Weili’s picture taken in the Summer of 2004, at Cape Cod, MA. Ma Xiaodong’s picture taken in December 2002 at a conference in Shanghai. shuyu_yan@sina.com Contents Series Editors’ Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix Foreword by Paul Cohen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi Explanation of Chinese Names . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv Chronology of Major Events in China: 1949–Present . . . . . . . . . . . xvii Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxiii Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 “Even If You Cut It, It Will Not Come Apart” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 “Flowers of the Nation” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 ONE TWO THREE From Paper Crown to Leather Belt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Up to the Mountains, Down to the Countryside . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97 FOUR FIVE Worker–Peasant–Soldier Students . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129 SIX The Reform Era . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137 Afterword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147 Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167 shuyu_yan@sina.com This page intentionally left blank shuyu_yan@sina.com Series Editors’ Foreword China, despite the nation’s current preoccupation with the Middle East, is perpetually on the American mind. Many observers believe that the twenty-first century will be the Chinese Century as that country industrializes and modernizes. From a historical perspective, China in the twentieth century was among the most tumultuous nations in the world. Ye Weili’s study primarily deals with a particular decade of tumult, chaos, and political warfare, 1966–1976, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, but explores experience before and after as well. It does so from the perspective of two women, Professor Ye and Ma Xiaodong, who tell their stories of life during the Cultural Revolution in dialogue with each other. The two voices, obtained through tape recorded conversations conducted originally in Chinese and then translated into English, add a special and complex dimension to the existing genre of individual memoirs of the period. The book is unusual in its departure from the frequent victimization approach to the Cultural Revolution as Ye Weili and Ma Xiaodong discuss the texture and continuity of everyday life in the midst of turbulent change. In this, and in its gendered approach to the period, the book makes a special contribution. It reflects oral history’s ability to humanize events and articulate the drama of an era. It also attempts to knit together oral history and memoirist writing. In so doing, it offers an example of the capacity of oral history to capture the memory of the past and allows us to understand the past from the perspective of the present. Joining with Ye Weili and Ma Xiaodong in their effort to sort out the puzzle of their generation—why it became so caught up in the Cultural Revolution and involved in violence—the reader travels a path of adventure, excitement, and, most significantly, introspection. The journey may make China more understandable or, perhaps, raises new questions about its development. Whichever, this addition to the Palgrave Studies in Oral History series helps broaden its geographic base by introducing a study of a major Asian nation. The series serves as a big tent not simply geographically, but methodologically as well. shuyu_yan@sina.com x / Series Editors’ Foreword In this instance, unlike the typical process, the oral historian is the subject of the oral history. Ordinarily, the interviewer helps shape someone else’s story. By recording her dialogue with Ma Xiaodong, Ye Weili demonstrates the truly conversational aspect of oral history. It is through discussion between the two principals that the narrative is developed and that the point–counterpoint of their varied experience is clarified. The series welcomes new approaches under the big tent and looks forward to future innovations in oral history. Bruce M. Stave University of Connecticut Linda Shopes Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission shuyu_yan@sina.com Foreword This highly unusual memoir recounts what it was like for Ye Weili and her collaborator Ma Xiaodong to experience girlhood, adolescence, and early adulthood in China in the years leading up to and then embracing the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). The memoir is unique in a number of important respects. For one thing, it raises unsettling questions concerning the highly simplified and unrelievedly negative picture that we often get of the latter decades of the Mao era. This negative image was fostered partly by such developments as the end of the cold war and the triumph of global capitalism, partly by the “victim” literature written by people who experienced the later Mao years personally and then came to the West and detailed their sufferings in published accounts. Ye and Ma don’t deny the grizzlier aspects of the Cultural Revolution decade—indeed, a particularly horrific incident that took place at Ye’s school in Beijing forms an important part of the story. But when, many years later, they began a series of conversations about their experiences they both sensed that, in the starkly downbeat depiction of this period that has gained general currency in the West, there was no place for them to fit memories that were dear to them, making it extremely difficult to reconstruct their individual growing-up experiences in a more complex, honest, and balanced way. Many of the accounts of this period, for example, focus on large-scale sociopolitical phenomena (violent campaigns, societal breakdown, Red Guard rampaging, and the mass performances of Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square) and tend in the process to pay little attention to what Ye refers to as “the texture of everyday life,” the “multiple shades of gray in a huge society.” In the memoir a special effort is made to incorporate such details, in implicit defiance of the political ethos of the day. When we hear about what dinner table conversations were like, family domestic helpers, Ye’s and Ma’s parents’ relationships with one another, their reactions to seeing their fathers cry for the first time, and the games they played as children, shuyu_yan@sina.com xii / Foreword we are furnished with important contextual material for the bigger, external happenings that loomed so large in young people’s lives at the time. A second way in which the memoir is distinctive is the manner in which it is structured. Substantial portions of the text are framed not as a singleperson narrative but as a conversation between Ye and Ma, in which they ask questions of each other and compare notes on aspects of their shared past. I know of no other account of these turbulent years that is presented in this way. Aside from its high readability, the conversational approach has two very important virtues. First, it makes clear that, although at a certain level of generality, Ye’s and Ma’s experiences were indeed parallel—both were females who grew up in Beijing at the same time, joined the Red Guards, worked in rural areas starting in the late 1960s, and went overseas to study in the post–Mao years—when one peers beneath the radar screen and looks more closely, one discovers how utterly different and distinctive individual life experiences could be. Ye’s father was very liberal, encouraged his children to have independent ideas, and tolerated lively disagreement at family meals, while Ma’s father was stricter and more patriarchal. Although many Red Guard groups were rigidly ideological and dogmatic in conduct, when Ma had to leave her group after her mother was beaten and given a “devil’s haircut,” her classmates in the group, instead of shunning her, made it clear that they were sorry she could no longer be one of them. In the late 1960s, when “educated youth” (zhiqing) like Ye and Ma were sent to the countryside, Ma’s experience on a state farm in Yunnan and Ye’s experience living and working in a village in northern Shanxi turned out to be poles apart. The other thing that the conversational structuring of mush of the memoir clearly brings out is the salience of individual personality. The ways in which Ye and Ma responded to their experiences, even the broadly similar ones, were far from identical. As the tempo of revolutionary fervor increased dramatically at the onset of the Cultural Revolution, Ye consistently experienced difficulty thinking and feeling as she was supposed to. She held back and resisted throwing herself into the political movements swirling about her, desperately trying to preserve some sense of separateness and self. Ma, responding very differently, quickly (and, it appears, happily) surrendered to the new revolutionary culture. She wanted to be a hero, a soldier, and reacted strongly against the stereotyped female behavior encountered in books, where women giggled instead of laughing heartily. She too wanted to laugh heartily, like men. The different personal make-ups of the two women come across with equal vividness in their accounts of their subsequent experiences in the countryside. Inspired by the “iron girl” (tie guniang) model, Ma, on her state farm in Yunnan, was intent on being the equal in all things of her male shuyu_yan@sina.com Foreword / xiii counterparts, even going so far as to conceal her monthly periods so that she wouldn’t have to take the customary day or two off from work and fall behind. Yet, in her appreciation of the beauty of her physical surroundings, the tentative awakening of romantic feeling that she briefly experienced, and the close friendships she made with other young women in her group, Ma during these years also revealed a less politically correct side of her personality. Ye’s experience in rural Shanxi was much less regimented than Ma’s. Characteristically, she liked the idea of being sent to a village, since anybody could be a peasant and she didn’t have to deal with political screening. Also characteristically, in a good part of her account, Ye presents herself as an outside observer, noting the extreme poverty of this part of the country, the freer sexual mores of the villagers, their relative indifference (as compared to city people) to political rectitude, and so on. In some respects, Ye casts herself as an outsider even in regard to the rest of the zhiqing cohort in the village. (Admittedly naïve and puritanical at the time, she is shocked to learn that members of the group were also, like the villagers, engaging in premarital sex.) For most of her five years in the countryside, Ye did agricultural work, initially enjoying it but eventually finding the repetitiveness of farming stultifying and wondering whether this was all there was going to be to her life. Ye and Ma both left the countryside in 1973 and attended college of several years as “worker–peasant–soldier” students. This was the final phase of the Cultural Revolution. Politics took precedence over academic learning and there was a good deal of tension on campuses. Ye found her college experience depressing. She hated the regimentation of school life, which formed a sharp contrast to the freedom she had enjoyed in her village, and felt that she had to live a lie in order to survive. Ma (like Ye) experienced the tension rife at the time between students of peasant and urban backgrounds, the former being less well educated but far more powerful politically. But she was less bothered than Ye by the regimentation. The reader is not surprised to learn that Ma, ever the enthusiastic joiner, eventually became a member of the Communist Party, while Ye displayed no interest in following this path. The variety of individual experience and personality elicited by the conversational strategy adopted in this memoir challenges in a powerful way the drab picture of complete conformity often understood to have characterized the last years of the Maoist era. By the time we have laid the book down, we have a strong sense of the individuality of its two contributors, how very different they were as human beings. One other special strength of the memoir is its fascinating evocation of the difference between immediate experience and subsequent reflection on that experience. Again and again, for instance, the point is made that shuyu_yan@sina.com xiv / Foreword when Ye and Ma were youngsters in China they lacked a “gendered” sensibility. In adulthood, however, both of them learned to appreciate gender as an important component of identity, with the consequence that their memories of their growing-up experiences as young women were reshaped. This struck me, when I read the memoir, as a marvellous example of how the “experienced” past, which is initially framed by one context, becomes reframed when individuals look back on their earlier lives and, operating as “historians,” reformulate them from the vantage point of what they have learned since. “Remembering,” for Ye and Ma, far from being a simple matter of repossession of the past, becomes a process governed by new frames of reference that the two women were not cognizant of in their youth, with the result that, on the level of consciousness, the past retrieved is very different from the past as originally experienced. The difference in perspective derived from radical spatial relocation also needs to be factored in here. Ye says that the years living in the countryside enabled her and many others in her generation to reconnect with the humanistic values of their childhood years (in the 1950s and early 1960s), which in turn positioned them intellectually and emotionally to embrace the new world that opened up in the post–Mao era. Living abroad later on––Ye and Ma both left China in the 1980s for further study in the United States—also provided for both women important new vantage points from which to look back on and reformulate the experiences of their childhood and adolescence. Many of the best-known personal accounts of the later Mao years—I have in mind such books as Gao Yuan’s Born Red (1987), Yue Daiyun’s To the Storm (1985), and Liang Heng’s Son of the Revolution (1983)—were written within a relatively short time following Mao’s death in 1976. One of the great strengths of Ye Weili’s memoir, in contrast to these earlier works, is precisely its distance from the events and experiences recounted. This distance, spatial as well as temporal, enables the author and her collaborator to reflect on their experiences in distinctive ways and to raise issues that the earlier accounts were unable, or at least less able, to broach. The result is a probing, courageously honest, and enormously insightful piece of writing, the appeal of which should extend well beyond the world of China specialists. It will make compelling reading for psychologists who study memory, students of gender, and historians of childhood. Written in engaging and lively prose, with an abundance of personal (often unusually intimate) detail, it should also be of great interest to the general reader. Paul A. Cohen shuyu_yan@sina.com Explanation of Chinese Names Throughout the book the names for Chinese people appear in the order of family name first and given name second, according to the Chinese way. All the names are in pinyin. shuyu_yan@sina.com This page intentionally left blank shuyu_yan@sina.com Chronology of Major Events in China: 1949–Present Date 1949 History Founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). 1950–1953 Korean War (domestically the Resist-America-Aid-Korea campaign was launched). Land Reform (redistribution of land and classification of rural population / accompanied with class struggle and continued from prior to the founding of the PRC). Marriage law (granting people the right to choose marriage partners / wives the right to initiate divorce / women the right to inherit property / abolishing concubinage and marriage for sale). 1951 S ...
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Surname 1
Student’s Name
Professor’s Name
Course Title
The role of women in china over the twentieth century.
In the ancient Chinese history, women have been considered as the main vice, virtue and
value holders in the most basic form of organization, the family. They were entitled with tasks
and duties of being wives and mothers taking care of their homes and instilling values to growing
children. They acted as mirrors of social responsibility, accountability and the nature of existence
of their families and were required to hold great social values both in their families and in the
communities as well. Despite the changing type of values to uphold from the imperial period,
through the communist era and the modern day, their roles have never changed and still act as a
reflection of the culture of existence.
During the Chinese imperial era, women were usually considered as objects and inferior
to men subject to slavery and prostitution. They were usually subjected to household chores and
rearing children and keeping the homes in good standards while men undertook more serious
matters in the production and leadership roles. Basically, they would marry wealthy men, bear
them more and more children where getting a boy was an added advantage in the male
dominated community, men having more rights as compared to women as they only were to keep
the men occupied. They were supposed to be loyal to their husbands at any point and if caught
cheating they were severely punished while on the other hand, men were allowed to interact and
mingle with other women and it wasn’t a great deal if they cheated in marriage.

Surname 2
During the communist and cultural revolution, gender participations evolved too and
women were allowed to work closely with men in various areas and aspects of production
though men still had all the powers both in the family setting and in the communal one. The
struggle of the women to gain recognition, respect in this era was eminent and in line ...

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