Wartime everydayness: beyond the battlefield in China’s Second World War
Journal of Modern Chinese History
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van de Ven, H. (2019). Wartime everydayness: beyond the battlefield in China’s Second World War. Journal of Modern Chinese History, 13 (1), 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1080/17535654.2019.1618625
This article suggests that the study of the War of Resistance should pay due attention to the effect of the war on the wartime everyday, that is, on Chinese culture, politics, society and the economy away from the battlefield. Not only was the impact deep and enduring, but evolving and regionally and socially divergent responses to the war also shaped the military course of the war. In modern war, as Karl von Clausewitz pointed out, public morale is a key factor in deciding the outcome of the fighting. The article first sketches the war’s impact on the Chinese economy, suggesting that ‘demodernization’ and the revival of traditional trading patterns formed the main consequences. It then discusses the reading lives of a young woman who grew up during the war and a senior Nationalist official to delineate contrasting emotional private responses, with one finding in literature an inspirational alternative and the other becoming increasingly disillusioned. The article concludes with an examination of three popular history textbooks. They all stressed the importance of an awareness of Chinese civilization but narrated its nature and its prospects in contrasting ways. Such textbooks were used in obligatory Chinese history courses at universities. The article makes no attempt to be comprehensive, but only to use a few examples as illustration of the potential of researching wartime everydayness.
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External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/17535654.2019.1618625
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/289311