Growing Up In The People's Republic

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Overview

In conversational style and in chronological sequence, Ye Weili and Ma Xiaodong recount their lives in China from the 1950s to the 1980s, a particularly eventful period that included the Cultural Revolution and the ensuing Communist regime. Using their own stories as two case studies, they examine the making of a significant yet rarely understood generation in recent Chinese history. They also reflect upon the mixed legacy of the early decades of the People's Republic of China (PRC). In doing so, the book strives for a balance between critical scrutiny of a complex era and the sweeping rejection of that era that recent victim literature embraces. Ultimately Ye and Ma intend to reconnect to a piece of land and a period of history that have given them a sense of identity. Their stories contain intertwining layers of personal, generational, and historical experiences. Unlike other memoirs that were written soon after the events of the Cultural Revolution, Ye and Ma's narratives have been put together some twenty years later, allowing for more critical distance. The passage of time has allowed them to consider important issues that other accounts omit, such as the impact of gender during this period of radical change in Chinese women's lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This oral history of China's revolution brings to life women's experiences in the context of larger upheavals. Personal, compelling, and conversational, the book gives Western readers a glimpse into the daily life of two girls who became Red Guards. Each looks back with a clear, honest gaze at the atrocities and hopes that were the hallmark of Mao's China."—Vera Schwarc, Freeman Professor History and East Asian Studies, Wesleyan University

"By casting her historical narrative in the form of an extended dialogue between two Chinese women born into the world of communist privilege, Ye Weili gives her readers a new way to understand the Cultural Revolution as a coming-of-age experience. The result is an absorbing and deftly original book."—Jonathan Spence, Yale University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Ye Weili is Associate Professor of History and Women's Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston and the recipient of a Fulbright research award. Ma Xiaodong teaches at Fudan University in Shanghai.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Chronology of major events in China : 1949-present
1 "Even if you cut it, it will not come apart" 9
2 "Flowers of the nation" 23
3 From paper crown to leather belt 51
4 Up to the mountains, down to the countryside 97
5 Worker-peasant-soldier students 129
6 The reform era 137
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