THE NATION AND THE SELF
Many have noted the authoritarian and hierarchical character of Chinese social relationships. Such characteristics have often been traced to the Confucian political order of late imperial days. The political scientist Lucian Pye, for instance, holds the view that in the Chinese mentality there was special sensitivity to the importance of authority, which was evidenced in familial as well as political relationships. The literary critic Fredric Jameson observes that in Chinese texts, just as in other Third World texts, "the story of the private individual destiny is always an allegory of the embattled situation of the public third-world culture and society." But unlike Pye, Jameson does not see this as the product of Chinese cultural traits. He attributes it instead to the oppositional relationships between the First and Third Worlds. The fusion of individual experience with that of the nation-state and an absence of a distinct sense of the self nonetheless remain key characteristics of modern Chinese intellectual identity.
In his essay reexamining the political and philosophical ideas of Zhang Taiyan, Wang Hui takes on the question of the place of the individual in modern Chinese political thinking. Wang focuses on the crucial period between 1906 and 1908, when many of Zhang's most influential ideas—such as his call for a Han ethnic revolution against the Manchus and his unique brand of ethnically based modern Chinese nationalism—were taking shape. Wang goes about his task through a close analysis of the discursive mode in Zhang's writings and argues that Zhang's affirmation of the individual was the product of a process of negative reasoning. It stemmed from his rejection of the ontological reality of collective entities such as the "nation," the "state," and the "people," all seen as constructs in abstraction. Furthermore, the autonomy of the individual was seen as actualizing itself not in terms of inalienable rights but in terms of an ability to stand apart and say no— to resist collective demands on individual allegiance as misplaced, denounce universal principles as partial, reject the imperatives of social norms as coercive, and place the individual above and beyond the collectivity.
Implicit in Zhang's rejection of the collectivity, Wang Hui suggests, was thus a much broader rejection of the ontological assumptions and epistemological positions that naturalized the rise of nation-states as a universal historical process for
Wang's objective in this essay, however, was not to rewrite intellectual history so that Zhang could be presented as a champion of indigenous Chinese notions about the absolute autonomy of the individual. On the contrary, Wang goes on to show that Zhang's individuated self was freed from the materially determined collectivity only to be subsumed in a broader stream of subjectivity. Zhang's ultimate concern did not, according to Wang, rest either with issues of metaphysics or individuality, but with the revolutionary politics of the late Qing. To the extent that his treatises on Buddhism were meant to supplement his political pronouncements, his espousal of the concept of the individual was delimited, conversely, by the discursive practices that defined the burning political issues of his day.
Zhang's concept of the absolute autonomy of the individual, Wang Hui argues, thus did not necessarily exhaust the full logical potential of the notion. Instead of a three-way consideration of relationships among self, society, and the nation-state, Zhang followed a binary logic that opposed the individual exclusively against the nation-state. This particular positioning of the self, Wang believes, was a direct result of Zhang's intellectual rivalry with his political opponents, chiefly Yan Fu and Liang Qichao. The latter, as they sought the wealth and power of the Chinese nation, had accepted the political legitimacy of the Qing state. They pressed for reform rather than revolution, and were willing to strengthen the political center at the expense of the locale, despite the fact that the ruling house was ethnically Manchu. The debates between Zhang and Liang were thus not only debates over fundamental philosophical principles but also manifestations of tangible political struggles between the Constitutionalists (Liang) and the Revolutionaries (Zhang). It was a contest between two different strategies of mobilization: a top-down model that would enhance the state's capacity to extract resources and tighten up control, and a bottom-up model that would call into being, in the process of revolutionary change, the power of the people consisting of a multitude of individuals.
May Fourth individualism, which had played such a crucial role in the iconoclastic attack against China's cultural past, was, according to Wang Hui, different from Zhang's individualism, and the product of a different genealogy. Zhang's concept of
But even more important, Zhang's intellectual biography speaks directly to a number of critical issues. It demonstrates, first of all, that modern Chinese acceptance of the authority of the collectivity, far from being a matter of tradition, was a relatively recent development spurred by the quest for national wealth and power. Second, it shows that this acceptance was the product of specific historical circumstances rather than essentialized cultural attributes. The binary opposition between the collectivity and the individual, between the nation-state and the individuated subject, Wang shows, followed no logical necessity, let alone cultural imperatives. It was the product not only of the political goals and intellectual tasks that Zhang had set for himself—a matter of strategic choice rather than logical necessity—but also of the linguistic constraints and discursive mode of the moment, which were themselves shaped in time.
The implications of Wang Hui's critical and revisionist interpretive position within the current Chinese intellectual context can hardly be exaggerated. In rereading Zhang, Wang has identified, in the intellectual life of the 1900s, an alternative conception of the individual in the formation of modern Chinese identity. This discovery helps to throw into sharp relief the intellectual genealogy of the much celebrated May Fourth conception of the individual, exposing the latter's materialistically deterministic foundation and its politically coercive nature at the same time. The ontological issues raised in the essay thus help to denaturalize the primacy of the nation-state as the one and only uncontested and conceivable subject of modern Chinese history. In that sense, the essay delivers a forceful critique of a misplaced ardor for the wealth and power of the nation-state, a willingness to sacrifice the individual for the sake of the collectivity, and a tendency to compromise the moral for the expediency of the political.
Wang Hui does not deny the authoritarian and hierarchical nature of modern Chinese social relationships. Nor does he deny that Zhang Taiyan's conception of the individual was instrumental in nature. A recognition of these characteristics serves, in fact, as a point of departure in his search for an alternative genealogy of Chinese modernity. The conclusion that he offers points to viable strategies for escaping that past.
It is worthwhile to note that the critical spirit, which informs Wang's essay, is in itself a product of China's intellectual climate in the 1980s. In the post-Cultural Revolution decade, a whole new generation of Chinese scholars and intellectuals has come forward, willing to reexamine China's revolutionary history in this century from a critical perspective.
Much of this critical reflection has resulted in an intense search for the place of the individual and the meaning of human existence in Chinese society. Wang Hui's work, along with that of many others, including the philosopher Li Zehou, the literary critic Liu Zaifu, and the Marxist thinker Wang Ruoshui, is a fine example along these lines. How the individual has fared in China's twentieth century is, of course, a function not merely of metaphysical thinking, but also of discursive practices and cultural politics. The fate of the individual in this century of war and revolution has been inextricably bound to, above all, the rise of nationalism and socialism as hegemonic discourses, to the disciplining of a modern citizenship by the power of the party-state, and to the growth of a political culture of violence that these practices have spawned.
This culture, as chapter 8 by David Wang and chapter 9 by Frederic Wakeman illustrate, has been expressed in manifold ways, ranging from a festive celebration of bloodshed in class struggles against the landlords to the citizen patriots' cult of "blood, sweat, and tears" during the War of Resistance against the Japanese. Wang and Wakeman explore this culture from different perspectives—by rereading some of the most celebrated fictional works conventionally honored in standard literary history textbooks published in post-1949 China, and by an archival reconstruction of the lives of Shanghai's proresistance assassins who set upon Chinese collaborators. These essays take us beyond the charmed circles of municipal reformers, urban professionals, ingenious entrepreneurs, and sophisticated urbanites into the minds of comrade revolutionaries and citizen patriots. They permit us a glimpse into the darker side of Chinese modernity, where the political parties and the state, with the help of print media and new technology, worked toward disciplining the masses.
David Wang's essay, which examines scenes of crime and punishment in Chinese literary works from the late Qing to the late 1940s, addresses the issue of critical intellectual stances vis-à-vis the state and outlines a literary trajectory that progressed from a representation of violence to the transformation of literature into sites of violence. Wang begins with an analysis of Liu E's turn-of-the-century novel Lao Can's Travels, and notes the appearance of a modern consciousness of violence and injustice in its pages. Violence and injustice sprang from where they were least suspected, in the ostensibly impartial courtroom presided over by the incorruptible judge Gang Yi. This disparity opens up a literary space that enabled the author to set up a contest between poetic justice and legal justice, displacing the latter with the former and thereby renegotiating the terms of justice and violence in real lives as well as in literary representation.
A major thrust in the writing of modern Chinese literature, Wang notes, has been this compulsion to address social justice—a "high-strung, contentious call for justice" that turned the printed pages into veritable courtrooms of public appeal. This impulse to expose wrongs and this self-assigned mission to indict injustice in China's modern literature had much to do with its moment of birth in the midst of the May Fourth Movement, Wang suggests, as well as with May Fourth proponents'
In the 1930s, as sparks of cultural iconoclasm gave way to a full-blown ideology of socialist revolution, left-wing literary attacks on the past grew increasingly violent in imagery and imagination. Social justice became progressively fused with literary violence. Chinese literature under the auspices of leftist aesthetics, which began as a literary crusade against social injustice, evolved into a form that embraced violence.
After the outbreak of the War of Resistance, many left-wing writers joined the Chinese Communist Party in its wartime base areas in the various border regions of north and northwestern China. In the Communist capital of Yan'an, under the governance of the party, many lent their voices to the service of the Chinese Communist Party. The pen was mobilized not only to serve the politics of opposition in a war of resistance but also to launch attacks in partyled class warfare. With the transformation of the writers from critics into champions, poetic justice was subsumed by revolutionary justice.
Through a rereading of Ding Ling's The Sun Shines over the Sanggan River, David Wang makes his case about the total identification of the authorial voice with the grand narrative of a Communistled socialist revolution. In the pages of Ding Ling's much celebrated contribution to the genre of revolutionary literature, class enemies were subjected to "the arbitrary will of the newly empowered," and "punishments are performed with an aim to arouse bloody festivity." Ding Ling's novel on land reform fuses the theater, the courtroom, and the site of punishment. The animal instincts exhibited by the newly empowered in this piece of fiction are shown "as a logical outcome rather than a momentary human reversion to the bestial." The ink, in other words, was spilled not to lament, but to demand bloodshed as a historical necessity. Modern Chinese literature in this sense has espoused the socialist revolution as a final and total solution of all the crimes and injustices that deserved punishment. It fused poetic justice with class struggle and celebrated violence as justice. As the writers blended their voices with that of the party, their writings lost the critical dimension of self-reflection.
The new revolutionary literature of the left wing, David Wang argues, ultimately facilitated the disciplining of a new citizenship by reducing the role of "the man of the new era" to "the role of the woman of the prerevolutionary era." The "hero" becomes, at best, an emasculated male—someone who earns his place in the master narrative through continuous acts of self-sacrifice, self-denial, and selfless penitence for the higher goals of the collectivity: in other words, he displays virtues conventionally gendered female rather than male. Such a hero is honored for his willingness to permit the loss of his individuality and humanity to the inexorable forces of the law of history. With protagonists such as these taking center stage, literary crusades against social injustice came to an end, and violence in modern Chinese literature was finally stabilized, Wang concludes, "in the form of self-imposed crimes and self-inflicted punishments."
The crime and punishment in Wang's essay, which tested the mettle of the revolutionary hero, were the exploitative deeds of one's class and ensuing fire and death in the purgatory of class warfare. The crime and punishment in Wakeman's essay, which explores the phenomenon of hanjian in the context of the War of Resistance, were fused with collaboration and resistance, and the hero, who loved his country instead of the people, fought the collaborators instead of the landlords. However, the war hero was no more a master of his own deeds in the patriotic campaigns of resistance than was the revolutionary hero in the struggles for justice, as Wakeman so aptly shows with his analysis of the discursive context of hanjian.
A hanjian in the twentieth century, Wakeman tells us, is an ethnic Chinese who had gone over to the enemy and betrayed his own people. The term combined ethnic transgression with political betrayal: it connected "ethnocultural treachery and the crossing of boundaries by collusion with foreigners," which was "linked in turn with bestiality, sexual violation, and demonic behavior." In other words, popular attacks on hanjian were grounded in two sets of understanding. The term suggested, first, the primacy of a communal identity that was ethnocultural, instead of socioeconomic, ethical-religious, or political. Second, as it fused deeds of treachery and transgression, it blurred the distinctions between issues of citizenship and identity.
Identity, in the discursive practices centered upon the campaigns against hanjian, was, as Wakeman demonstrates, not only a matter of communal belonging on the basis of ethnicity but also the very foundation of one's claim to humanity. Those who had transgressed the bounds had gone beyond the pale of the civilized world and were no longer human, and thus were the rightful targets of elimination. Conversely, those who remained within the ethnic bounds not only were the cherished members of a blood brotherhood, but they could claim superior human understanding.
Chinese citizenship in this discourse of hanjian was, by Wakeman's analysis, thus a product of one's ethnic identity. Ethnic allegiance not only determined one's civic obligations but also functioned as a substitute for the latter. Meanwhile, to the extent that those within the ethnic bounds could claim superior human understanding, the duties of citizenship necessarily entailed a moral imperative to launch attacks on the traitors, since by committing treason the latter had forfeited their claims to humanity. "Hanjian," Wakeman writes, "did not deserve to be killed only because they were ‘treacherous merchants' smuggling black market rice and driving up the price for decent Chinese; or because they opened up opium supply bureaus to ‘poison’ (duhua) their compatriots; or because they heedlessly ‘extorted’ (sougua) higher and higher taxes from the farmers the Japanese permitted them to govern; or because they sold out Chinese economic interests to their masters in Tokyo. They deserved to be killed just because they were hanjian, and that was all there was to it."
Those who performed deeds of patriotism, as they followed a logic of ethnic identity couched in terms of moral obligation, thus could hardly claim moral agency and individual autonomy. But the heroes of resistance, Wakeman argues, were products of larger forces in yet another sense.
The term hanjian, Wakeman shows, did not originate with the twentieth century. Its first usage can be traced back to the Song dynasty, when it described Han Chinese officials who spied for the Jurchen Jin dynasty. In the twentieth century, as a matter of discursive practice the meaning of the term did not stabilize until after the retreat of the Nationalist government from Wuhan in December 1938—in an atmosphere of loss and defeat—when many Chinese appeared to have wavered on their resolution to fight the Japanese. The Nationalists and the Communists, allies in the United Front, consciously resolved to polarize the distinction between the "traitors" and the "heroes" in an effort to mobilize popular support for armed resistance. Under the orchestration of the state and the two major political parties, resistance fighters were portrayed in the press as good heroes, while pacifists, would-be collaborators, and collaborators alike were branded as villains. This stark opposition between the heroes and the villains grew out of a willful determination to overlook the complexity and ambivalence of collaboration. The good and the evil, once separated, were then accorded sharply dichotomized treatments. "Those who continued to be traitors to the people (minzu pantu), who continued to act publicly as puppets or to behave clandestinely as hanjian, not only risked the wrath of Heaven, but they also faced public elimination by their fellow citizens." A whole generation of young men were taught, meanwhile, not only to love their country, but also to set upon the traitors.
In a richly textured account based on the files of the Shanghai Municipal Police, Wakeman offers a close look at patriotic deeds on the streets of Shanghai as wild-eyed young men were recruited as assassins for the military intelligence service of the Nationalist government in Chongqing. There was a certain glamour to the deeds of violence and the lore of heroic assassins in popular culture on Shanghai streets, Wakeman shows. The committed killers included a destitute printer completely dependent upon relatives, a teenager unable to find a job since graduating from primary school, a waiter with a friend in the guerrillas, a laid-off clothing salesman, and a number of country folks in the city who shared an attic with bosom friends. These men gunned down, hacked open, chopped up, clubbed to death doctors, writers, journalists, financiers, industrialists, politicians—eliminating anyone suspected of dealings with the enemy. Most of these assassins also died young themselves, captured, tortured, and killed either by the Japanese military police or agents in the service of Chinese collaborators.
Even as these young men were spilling blood to defend the community's ethnic integrity, the top leaders of the war in Chongqing, Nanjing, northern Jiangsu, and Tokyo were subtly adjusting themselves to the changing dynamics in the battlefields. The leaders struck deals and formed tactical alliances that redrew political boundaries. The firm lines drawn between the hero and the traitor, the good and the evil, Wakeman concludes, were fully subject to redefinition by expediency.
Wang Hui's essay, as we have seen, is a search for the standing of the individual vis-à-vis the collectivity in modern Chinese life. The essays by David Wang and Wakeman underscore, in contrast, the largely collective and authoritarian characteristics
Not everyone, of course, strove to be a hero. Few, however, could elude the disciplining power of the hegemonic discourse. Socialist revolution and nationalist resistance, according to the analysis by Wang and Wakeman, each produced its version of a tragic hero. But modern hegemonic discourse shaped public as well as private lives, and reconfigured domestic as well as civic spaces. Both socialism and nationalism demanded undivided allegiance of all Chinese. The emergence of such discursive practices not only forcefully rearranged the distribution of symbolic resources but also—much as did the power of commodification analyzed by Leo Lee—altered the semiotics of everyday life. The modern nation-state, working through a variety of means at its disposal, not only posed a powerful challenge to all established forms of corporatist power and authority; it structured a whole system of representation and set the terms of individual self-representation. It was within this context that the traditional patriarchal system of authority, as Prasenjit Duara in chapter 10 and Paul Pickowicz in chapter 11 suggest, was significantly reconfigured in modern times. The new nationalist discourse had a large part to play not only in the lives of men but also of women.
Duara's essay, which explores the representation of women in modern Chinese nationalist discourse, examines at the same time the subversion of such discourse by the women themselves. Two very different nationalistic representations of women have emerged in China, according to Duara. On the one hand, there was the May Fourth representation of the radically anti-Confucian, antifamilial, nationalist woman, and on the other, the varieties of more conservative constructions of woman as the representative of the soul of tradition. Politically, the former was associated with the Communists, while the latter was more commonly aligned with the Nationalist and social reformers. The iconoclastic woman, liberated as she appeared to be, turned out to be a political liability: communism itself was delegitimized by its association with such representations in the 1920s and 1930s, because radical women and their behavior threatened to corrupt the inner purity of Chinese culture. By contrast, conservative women, tradition-bound as they seemed to be, were brought into the modern world and established at the center of a "new nationalist patriarchy."
Why did the political fallout from these two female representations sort itself out as it did? The answer, Duara suggests, lies in the larger question of the construction of national identity, especially the authentication of an interior space
Just how exactly were Chinese women supposed to personify the essence of the national tradition? This, Duara shows, was of course a matter of many pragmatic possibilities and diverse political ramifications. Leading Republican figures, from Sun Yatsen and Wang Jingwei to Lu Xun, each had their thoughts on the subject. The critical consideration in this context, Duara notes, was how nationalist patriarchy came into being by appropriating the categories of traditional patriarchy to serve the nation. Thus a woman might be able to affirm her traditional attributes—steadfastness and compassion (qualities that Chinese men presumably did not have), hence public-mindedness and patriotism—in the new discursive context of the nation-building project.
How the categories of traditional patriarchy were appropriated to serve the purposes of the new nationalist patriarchy was examined further at close range in the context of the emergence of the Morality Society, a middle-class elite association, as it operated in Manzhouguo under Japanese sponsorship in the 1930s. An elite association closely supervised by the Japanese authorities, the Morality Society boasted a membership including top officials, merchants, and landowners at all levels of Manzhouguo society from the major cities to the subcounty townships. It was, Duara acknowledges, a jiaohua (moral education) agency with a strong propagandizing urge, spreading messages of peace, morality, and spiritual salvation of the world by Confucian East Asia. It countered the West, characterized as material, with an East that was moral rather than spiritual in the sectarian tradition, in part as a result of its close relation with the state. It sought no radical break with the cults of chaste widows and virtuous wives. Its middle-class patriarchal
Duara agrees that this pedagogy was far from meaningless. Buttressed by the educational institutions and the propaganda machinery at the command of the state and the middle-class patriarchy, nationalist patriarchy placed constraints on the permissible for women and gave them the terms in which to think of their own subjectivity. Not all was lost, however. Through a close reading of over three hundred pages of personal narratives and testimonials—of the female leaders and teachers of the Morality Society who taught in its charitable schools and went around the country in the mid-1930s giving lectures on morality—Duara shows that a gap existed between women as the constituted subject and the enunciating subject. The very fact that these women participated in the Morality Society, Duara argues, was itself an ideal way to "control their activities outside the home." Furthermore, the positive evaluation of the realm of the social or public in modern ideologies created opportunities for women to define as their proper space of action an expanded community of moral service. Women as enunciating subjects were thereby able to construct a sphere of autonomous activity outside the prescribed traditional feminine domain, even as they were represented in these terms once again in the new nationalist patriarchy. The women lecturers of Manzhouguo's Morality Society were thus people who maneuvered the language in the same moment as they were constituted by it, successfully defying the latter even as the bonds remained.
The construction of women in modern Chinese nationalist discourse, by Duara's analysis, thus cuts both ways. While the logic of national identity and nationalistic patriarchy demanded that women be represented as the repository of female virtues according to the categories generated in the traditional system of patriarchal authority, the very valorization of the nation in a patriarchal discourse opened up a new space for female action and autonomy. This inner connection between nationalism and patriarchy, which, in Duara's presentation, was simultaneously a product of the opposition between the First and the Third Worlds and of the imperatives of nation building, resulted in new dynamics that defied simple dichotomized divisions phrased either as "tradition versus modernity" or as "progressive versus conservative."
The historical connection between modern nationalism and traditional patriarchy was, of course, operative in a variety of contexts. While Duara sees it in the representation of women by the morality associations of the Manzhouguo middle-class elite, Pickowicz finds it in the popular Shanghai films made in the late 1940s on China's wartime experience. Duara, as has been noted, sees in this connection certain irreducible psychological imperatives plus an epistemological necessity—he argues, in other words, that the connections are necessary so that the national subject recognizes himself or herself in an evolutionary scheme of time,
Disillusionment and despair were facts of postwar life in China, Pickowicz shows. The majority of Chinese endured utter devastation, which occurred over large parts of China during the War of Resistance. They emerged from the battlefields feeling dislocated and defeated, despite China's final victory over Japan.
A series of postwar films appeared in the late 1940s that confronted the problem of such malaise in the Shanghai area. Following a formulaic representation that recounted China's war experience in the form of epic narratives about how Chinese families endured, these films were immediate box office successes that sold out to full house capacity for months on end. The films, which captured a pervasive urban mood in the late 1940s, helped to articulate a sense of injustice and dislocation in postwar China that turned victory into an experience of defeat. Although the Nationalist government was not blamed, many negative characters in the films were Chongqing-bound wartime profiteers. Thus the films most likely contributed to the mounting criticism of the Nationalist regime and its eventual collapse. For this reason they have conventionally been labeled as politically "progressive" in film histories produced after 1949.
Pickowicz's close analysis of the classics in this genre—notably Far Away Love, Eight Thousand Miles of Cloud and Moon, and A Spring River Flows East—shows, however, that there was nothing revolutionary in them when it comes to the representation of the family. The family values and cultural politics expressed in them were in fact decidedly conservative. The patriotism and unselfish public-spiritedness of all the positive characters were natural extensions of their old-fashioned, neo-Confucian cultural orientation. All negative characters, however, were simply the ones who had betrayed these time-honored family values. The villains had transgressed cultural boundaries, become corrupted by Western styles and alien ways, and given themselves to greed, decadence, callousness, and selfishness that virtually prepared them for collaboration with the enemy—much as the hanjian traitors described in Wakeman's essay. There was, Pickowicz notes, an unmistakable anti-mercantile and antibourgeois thrust that informed all these films. All the positive characters, by contrast, had endured and persevered through thick and thin, their sense of self and of Chineseness remaining intact whether in life or at the moment of death, thanks to the traditional norms that authenticated their sense of worth and being. Thus, instead of spearheading cultural iconoclasm, these postwar "progressive" films had in fact aligned themselves with a nationalist discourse that
We should note, however, that the postwar films about families in war were not simply allegories about the nation; they were allegories about a nation in distress. The family relationships that the films depicted were not simple expressions of traditional patriarchal norms either, but showed the patriarchal order in disarray. War films capture the crisis by showing a redistribution of attributes between men and women. In the examples offered by Pickowicz, decency, strength, loyalty, and dedication were often exhibited by women but not men. Moral degeneration, emotional weakness, failure to resist colonialism, and evidence of wavering and withdrawal were the sins of men but not women. The war, Pickowicz notes, appeared to have brought out the best in Chinese women and the worst in Chinese men.
The strain placed on patriarchal order in moments of national distress might have brought forth admirable heroines, discredited male characters, and disrupted the familial institutions. But it did not necessarily delegitimize patriarchal authority, nor did it endow women with greater autonomy. Those who survived the war by drawing strength from traditional feminine virtues such as patience, endurance, self-sacrifice, and caring for others, Pickowicz shows, were not rewarded with triumph at the end of the war. These women emerged from trial and tribulation heroic in moral stature, only to be betrayed and rejected by their impure spouses. Heroines who denounced the immorality of their kin and broke the bonds of their bourgeois families fared no better, if a higher degree of autonomy was among the objectives. The logic of their own moral superiority dictated that they join a new patriotic collective and submit themselves to its patriarchal authority. Their virtue thus won them an expanded space for selfless service and total dedication. As much as they appeared to have stepped out of the confines of the home to join the public, the communal, and the collective, women as the constituted subject in a positive role continued to be represented by those very qualities traditionally gendered as feminine.
Whether Chinese women had fared better or worse with the emergence of a nationalistic patriarchal system of authority is, of course, an issue for further research and debate. Pickowicz and Duara, through examinations of different sets of materials under separate circumstances, have mapped out comparable sets of problems. Both essays offer the suggestion that, with the rise of a new nationalist discourse, women's space for action had expanded beyond the domestic confines traditionally prescribed. The valorization of the nation and public opened up new spheres for women's activities. The disruption of the family and the rise of the collectives, however, also placed them under the patriarchal authority of the state in an unprecedented way. Unlike the middle-class Manzhouguo women lecturers in Morality Society, women in collectives depicted in the films were no longer housewives endeavoring to extend the bounds of their prescribed space. They were, through their devotion to the fatherland, desexualized women comrades and warriors
The discursive practices that Pickowicz has exposed shed light on the representation of the female subject as pedagogically constituted. They raise questions about how the three-way realignment of power relationships among the nation, the patriarch, and the woman played themselves out in China's century of war and revolution. Whether the realignment resulted in a regendering of the feminine and a recoding of social spaces in the context of Chinese modernity is a question, as Leo Lee's essay suggests, that awaits further exploration. What Duara and Pickowicz have eloquently shown, along with Wang Hui, David Wang, and Wakeman, is the steady and unrelenting rise—whether by logical necessity or by sheer happenstance, with benevolent intent or authoritarian command—of the power of the nation-state and its ever-expanding capacity to intervene in the production of modern Chinese identity.
The expanding state, as we learn from Kirby and Strand, was able, on its way up, to muster the service of a whole generation of modern professional elites while claiming their allegiance. These individuals built the institutional foundation of the modern Chinese polity. Yet despite the overseas exposure and maritime contacts in their social and educational background, they were far less effective in articulating an alternative set of principles that posed a challenge to entrenched cultural and political norms.
In Shanghai and other coastal cities, meanwhile, forces unleashed by the trade of goods and ideas worked steadily to redefine social relationships and the material foundation of everyday life. The cosmopolitan flair and the entrepreneurial drive, so central to a vision of Shanghai modernity in the 1930s, brought to life a new era of public culture and civic activism in the years leading up to the War of Resistance. Yet barely a decade later, the energy and sophistication of this prewar urban efflorescence seemed, from the perspective of a wartorn China, remote and removed indeed. Nonetheless, as the chapters in this volume will show, the high hopes for enlightenment as well as the deep despair over war, the streetcorner poetry as well as the state-sponsored violence, were irreducible parts of modern Chinese historical experience. As we follow the passages of middle-class elites sojourning across a fragmented landscape from the coast to the interior and back, we can explore both the meaning of becoming Chinese and the legacies of that quest.