Event Title

Upper-Middle Class Life in China, 1920s-1930s

Presenter Information

Shiyun Qiu, Colby CollegeFollow

Location

Diamond 344

Start Date

30-4-2015 1:15 PM

End Date

30-4-2015 1:55 PM

Project Type

Presentation

Description

This research project explores the history of everyday life in China during the 1920s and 1930s. There are two dimensions to popular understandings of this time period in China today: On the one hand, Chinese college students are nostalgic for the past, often posing in 1920s era school uniforms in graduation photographs. Similarly, the growing number of Chinese students studying abroad can now read the diaries and essays, constantly being reprinted, of their 1920s and 30s predecessors who studied overseas. Indeed, many young Chinese people view the 1920s and 30s with a certain degree of nostalgia. We see it as a time of openness, liberation and sophistication not so different from its global counterparts. However, the official Chinese history that we learn in textbooks paints a very different picture of a period of chaos and oppression, with China facing warlords from the inside and foreign imperialist aggression from outside. These two diverging representations of the 1920s and 30s have led me to ask how people actually experienced everyday life in China during this time. To answer this question, my research focuses on the city of Tianjin, a premier port city in northern China, near Beijing. Using municipal archives, popular magazines and newspapers, I examine Chinese ideas about family, home and urban life. This study will recast our understanding of 1920s and1930s as neither idealistic nor chaotic. Instead, 1920s-30s was a period of coexistence between Western modern lifestyle and long-standing Chinese traditions. Moreover, my research suggests that cultural acceptance and openness during this period well exceeded the Communist era that followed.

Faculty Sponsor

Elizabeth LaCouture

CLAS Field of Study

Interdisciplinary Studies

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

1565

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Apr 30th, 1:15 PM Apr 30th, 1:55 PM

Upper-Middle Class Life in China, 1920s-1930s

Diamond 344

This research project explores the history of everyday life in China during the 1920s and 1930s. There are two dimensions to popular understandings of this time period in China today: On the one hand, Chinese college students are nostalgic for the past, often posing in 1920s era school uniforms in graduation photographs. Similarly, the growing number of Chinese students studying abroad can now read the diaries and essays, constantly being reprinted, of their 1920s and 30s predecessors who studied overseas. Indeed, many young Chinese people view the 1920s and 30s with a certain degree of nostalgia. We see it as a time of openness, liberation and sophistication not so different from its global counterparts. However, the official Chinese history that we learn in textbooks paints a very different picture of a period of chaos and oppression, with China facing warlords from the inside and foreign imperialist aggression from outside. These two diverging representations of the 1920s and 30s have led me to ask how people actually experienced everyday life in China during this time. To answer this question, my research focuses on the city of Tianjin, a premier port city in northern China, near Beijing. Using municipal archives, popular magazines and newspapers, I examine Chinese ideas about family, home and urban life. This study will recast our understanding of 1920s and1930s as neither idealistic nor chaotic. Instead, 1920s-30s was a period of coexistence between Western modern lifestyle and long-standing Chinese traditions. Moreover, my research suggests that cultural acceptance and openness during this period well exceeded the Communist era that followed.

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2015/program/401