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10. Of Authenticity and Woman

Personal Narratives of Middle-Class
Women in Modern China

Prasenjit Duara

The iconoclastic modernism of the May Fourth Movement was scarcely the only vision of modernity in Republican China. While the intellectual history of these alternative views has received some attention in the scholarship, the social history of these views has not.[1] Urban, middle-class social forms in the Republic—from charitable societies to the family—were dominated by models of modernity that have been obscured by the narrative of radical emancipation, which found little place for "tradition" in its ideal of the emancipated individual. At about the same time that May Fourth ideals were galvanizing a certain segment of the intelligentsia, a new, much more broadly based type of association was emerging in urban China with ties that linked it (to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon the particular association) organically to rural and popular culture. In this essay I shall discuss the construction of women's identities within this middle-class milieu. I will argue that the reconceptualization of morality and spirituality in this milieu had profound implications for the identities of women. In the second part of the essay, I will focus on the gap between the pedagogy of the leadership and the life stories of the women themselves in one of these associations, the Daodehui, or Morality Society.

I call these associations modern, redemptive societies. The most well known of these, apart from the Morality Society, were the Dao Yuan (Society of the Way) and its partner, the Hongwanzihui (Red Swastika Society), the Tongshanshe (Fellowship of Goodness), the Zailijiao (Teaching of the Abiding Principle), the Shijie Zongjiao Datonghui (Society for the Great Unity of World Religions, first organized in Sichuan in 1915 as the Wushanshe), and the Yiguandao (Way of Pervading Unity), among many others. To be sure, these societies were significantly different from one another, but what they had in common was a remarkable indicator of the new milieu of urban life across China. A distinctive feature of these societies was their division of the civilized world into the East and the West, where the West represented science and material culture, and East Asian civilization represented the hope for

the spiritual and moral regeneration of the world. In many ways these societies represented a development of the late imperial syncretist tradition (sanjiao heyi)—which first gained popularity among the Confucian gentry as well as the Buddhist and Daoist laity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries—particularly in their emphasis on a redemptive universalism and moral self-transformation.[2]

However, the new global context of the twentieth century significantly transformed the meaning of their project. Many of these societies were established, or flourished, during World War I, when a discourse criticizing Western civilization as being overly materialist and violent began to emerge globally. These societies sought to supplement and correct the material civilization of the West with the spiritual civilization of the East. This supplement took the shape of a religious universalism in which Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity all supposedly embodied the same universal spirituality. Like other modern religious and morality societies the world over, these societies were outfitted with charters and bylaws, and their goal of world redemption was matched by a strong this-worldly orientation, exemplified perhaps best of all by the Red Swastika Society. While the name of this society referred to a Buddhist symbol, it should also be seen as an Eastern equivalent of the Red Cross Society, which it was modeled upon.[3] Discursively, the older conceptions of time embodied in Buddhism and Confucianism were exchanged for an evolutionary vision of history (jinhua). Indeed, these societies justified their raison d’être in the language of evolutionary history, arguing that without the moral and spiritual regeneration that they promised, not only would human evolution stall but it would turn still more hedonistic and violent.[4] In their conception, human society was expected to evolve to moral perfection, but only by way of Eastern spirituality.

The pervasive nature of this symbiotic formulation of modernity in China does not need much demonstration. The Kuomintang (KMT) regime of the 1930s subscribed precisely to such a dualistic formulation, and the New Life Movement exemplified the urge to revitalize the material conditions of modernity through a muscular, or rather, ascetic, Confucian moralism. This conception is most strikingly identified with a modernist, evolutionary framework in Chen Lifu's philosophy of a parallel material and spiritual evolutionism. Chen's parallelism also represents one of the more creative means of accommodating the nation's past in a modern future so characteristic of nationalist ideology the world over. Chen argues that the evolution of material civilization without spiritual progress inevitably leads to the enslavement of humankind by things.[5] Even while it recognizes the livelihood of the people as the supreme goal, the New Life Movement will inject moral qualities from the essence of Chinese civilization into this effort so that history can be propelled into civilizational perfection—Datong, or the Great Unity.[6]

Given the discursive affinities between many of these societies and the KMT, it is surprising to find that from 1927 on, the KMT outlawed and persecuted many of these societies, including the Morality Society.[7] The KMT regime condemned these societies as riddled by superstition and dominated by local bullies and warlords. Central to understanding this hostility, I believe, is the way in which the

KMT devised its representation of tradition to exclude popular religious practices—in part at least to excise and contain the power of religious heterodoxy. Thus, I have argued elsewhere that the KMT characterization of the spiritual as part of China's national essence incorporated modern, licensed religions, while it proscribed as superstition a range of religious societies from the heterodox to those it suspected of political opposition.[8] Included among these were not only sectarian and several secret societies but also most of the modern, redemptive societies. In keeping with their syncretist heritage, many of the religious practices of these redemptive societies were, in fact, drawn from popular culture; for instance, the popularity of the Daoyuan, or the Red Swastika Society, was often attributed to its practice of divination and planchette.[9] Thus several of these societies drew from late imperial syncretism not only by synthesizing different religious teachings but also by accommodating popular gods and practices, which made them a much more organic part of Chinese society.[10] In contrast, the KMT appears to have espoused a more elitist variant of the dualistic formulation of modernity.

Apart from the East versus West, or spiritual-moral versus material, duality, these societies were also premised upon another duality: the outer versus the inner. In the outer realm, these societies not only conducted philanthropic activities associated with traditional charities (cishan shiye), such as establishing and managing soup kitchens and poorhouses, but expanded their sphere to include modern hospitals, schools, and contributions to international relief works. Thus, for instance, the Hongwanzihui, which had professors of Esperanto among its members and branches in Paris, London, and Tokyo, contributed substantially to relief works in China and abroad, such as those conducted after the Tokyo earthquake and natural disasters in the Soviet Union.[11] The Zailijiao, which may have had a membership of between three hundred thousand and several million (it had forty-eight centers in Tianjin alone) developed drug rehabilitation centers using herbal medicines and self-cultivation techniques (zhengshen), which were said to fully cure over two hundred opium addicts a year.[12] As we shall see below, external or "public" service was not only significant in itself, but the discourse of "public service" would generate new possibilities of selfhood, which was so important to most of these societies.

This inner realm of selfhood was focused on producing the self-cultivating subject. Such self-cultivation practices (ziji xiuyang, xiushen) ranged from the exercise of a strict disciplinary regimen to cultivating the habit of close moral and spiritual introspection designed to produce the self-cultivating subject as the moral citizen of the new world. Some societies emphasized strict vows of abstinence from drugs, meats, and alcohol; others, quasi renunciation of the family; and still others, detailed codes of moral behavior and bodily comportment.[13] Most societies combined all three.


In this essay, I am centrally concerned with the production of this interior space in which the self is constituted, or interpellated, in Louis Althusser's terms.[14] Interpellation

is the act by which the individual recognizes himself or herself in the appellation pronounced by the other, as when we turn around upon hearing the policeman call out "Hey, you." How do social powers authorize themselves to pronounce that name, to define that representation with which the individual is prepared to identify or to negotiate her identification? Thus my first concern is with the manner in which a space of inviolability is created that authorizes certain powers to define a representation of the self and render it immune to challenges from alternative discourses.

The inviolability of this space is secured by the symbolization of certain activities or practices—such as the rites of a nation, the vanishing festivals of a village, the self-sacrifices of women—as sacred or authentic. Within this space, social power can be cloaked in the robes of a pure and inner authenticity, the sacred space of (or in) the secular and modern. While this space exists in all societies, modern and premodern, it serves a rather special function in modern societies dominated by the discourse on evolutionary history and the conception of linear time it embodies. The anxiety produced by a conception of time that has potentially no end, goal, or moral purpose generates as much a need for faith in the future (progress), as for a secure identity symbolized by the unchanging essence. The space of inviolable authenticity is equivalent to the unchanging essence. Like the national flag, it is the sacred core of identity.[15]

What nationalists and others refer to as the unchanging essence of a nation or civilization is a repeatedly reconstituted representation whose historicity is concealed by its pace of change, which is not synchronous with change in other spheres.[16] In locating this sphere of authenticity within the problematic of linear history, I wish to separate it from a purely or primarily psychologistic reading of these essences and traditions. Thus, while Joseph Levenson's interpretation of the recreations and manipulations of "tradition" —as being psychologically comforting to modern Chinese intellectuals who needed to assert the particularity of Chinese history in the face of the overwhelming superiority of scientific civilization and values—may have been true for some intellectuals at some time and place, the reconstruction of tradition had other meanings and functions not reducible to salving the inferiority complex of Chinese intellectuals. All nations and societies that see themselves as subjects progressing or evolving through linear time need to constitute an "unchanging core" in order to recognize themselves in their ever-changing circumstances. Hence the role of tradition or sacred national symbols or core values in Britain or France or America. What is interesting about the Chinese and other non-Western cases is that the aporia of having to be of the past and also not of it is presented as having to be both Eastern and Western. Thus there is an imbrication between Easternness, national or cultural essence, and the space of authenticity, each functionally different, but each authorizing the other.

The homology between East versus West and essential versus evolving was characteristic of much non-Western modern thought in the first half of the twentieth century, and typically it authorized the space of authenticity in several Asian

societies of the time. Partha Chatterjee's work on the colonized middle class in Bengal shows us how nationalist ideology in late-nineteenth-century India appropriated the middle-class production of a sphere that he calls the inner domain of sovereignty of nationalist ideology. Like so much Chinese nationalism discussed above, Indian nationalism was built upon a duality of the scientific and material versus the spiritual and cultural. Thus, while the Indian nation had much to learn from the material and scientific civilization of the West, in spiritual matters India had the upper hand and a contribution to make to world civilization.[17]

Chatterjee's particular contribution is to show how this dualism was organized in a way that created an inner realm of national life that could not be contested by the colonial power. Nineteenth-century Bengali middle-class intellectuals had reworked certain historical texts to define the ideal "woman" and distinguish her from depictions of the "traditional" (i.e., recent historical, rather than the quintessential) Bengali woman, from depictions of contemporary lower-class women, and from the figure of the Western, materialist, and masculinized woman. Modern Indian nationalism found this trope of the enlightened but "traditional" woman to be highly congenial and appropriated it as the core of the essential nation. Tradition thus came to mark a realm of inner sovereignty that was simultaneously demarcated as domestic, spiritual, and feminine. The Hindu nationalist representation of woman—educated and educating, but personifying the spiritual virtues of domesticity—gave body to this national essence. While on the one hand, this lofty idealization of the Hindu woman provided new aspirations for some women, it also represented a new nationalist patriarchy and produced a sense of failure for women whose real lives could not match this idealization.[18]

The creation of an inner realm of authenticity in the modern discourses of Republican China was important in authorizing a space that was off-limits, less to colonial powers than to Westernizing forces within China—most significantly the social forces spawned by the May Fourth Movement. It is hardly a coincidence that many of these redemptive modern societies emerged in the last years of the second decade of the twentieth century or in the early 1920s, and that Sun Yatsen's valorization of Chinese traditional virtues within nationalist rhetoric took place at around the same time as the May Fourth Movement. As a result, two very different representations of women emerged in China. On the one hand, there was the May Fourth representation of the radically anti-Confucian, indeed, anti-familial, nationalist woman, and on the other, the variety of more conservative constructions of woman as the representative of the soul of tradition, with which we are concerned here. These two conceptions tended to be deeply inimical to each other, and after the KMT-Communist split in 1927, thousands of "modern" women were killed because they were accused of participating in free love or simply because they had bobbed hair and unbound feet.[19] Throughout the Republic, the image of the modern Westernized woman was associated at various different levels of society with promiscuity and impurity, an image conveyed effectively in

the stories of Mao Dun and others.[20] Lu Xun also wrote bitter denunciations of modern Confucianists such as Kang Youwei who insisted on reifying the traditional image of the self-sacrificing woman, and who thereby sought to perpetuate their domination over women.[21] In the short story "Soap" (1924), Lu satirizes such middle-class Confucianists who were disturbed by modern, Westernizing influences in Chinese life. Lu's protagonist is particularly agitated by the mixing of gender roles—girls sporting short hair, attending schools with boys, and the like. He finds in a beggar girl on the street the means to revive Confucian values, not by addressing her poverty, but by elevating her to serve as a model of self-sacrificing, filial piety.[22]

The conservative view of women was by no means simply a throwback or a resistance to modernity. Nationalists and social reformers of all stripes sought to bring about reform of the traditional social order in which women were seen to have been oppressed. The need for women's education, the abolition of foot binding, and the urgency of prenatal care were espoused by Kang Youwei and others who were considered conservative.[23] Rather, what was being constructed here was a trope of woman as embodying "tradition within modernity." Women were to participate as modern citizens in the public sphere of the nation, but they were also expected to personify the essence of the nation or civilization. Wang Jingwei's lecture in a girls' school in 1924 expresses this conception aptly. Wang exhorts the girl students not to give in to the demands of the family but rather to use their education to rid society of its evil customs and build a progressive nation in China.[24] Wang next goes on to suggest, however, that although the Chinese tradition is rife with noxious customs, the women of China have an admirable and long tradition of self-sacrifice (xisheng), whether in their natal home where they willingly sacrifice their happiness for the sake of their parents, or in marriage for the sake of their husband, or in old age for the sake of their sons. Wang is aware that many in the old society often exploited this tradition to deprive women of their freedom, but he also believes, he says, that women sacrificed their desires from a voluntary and deeply felt conviction (zhenzhende qinggan) for the good of the community: "Chinese women are rich in the spirit of self-sacrifice. If we can properly direct this spirit toward… [the collectivity] and use it, then we can, on the one hand, perhaps preserve a little of the essence [jingsui] of the teachings of several thousand years and, on the other, still plant the roots of modern liberatory thought. In seeking education for girls, I hope we can uphold our mission to inherit the past in order to enlighten posterity [chengxian qihou]."[25] Thus Wang identifies woman as the locus of unchanging authenticity not by sanctifying the home and domesticity—as in India—but by redirecting the virtue of self-sacrifice to the nation.


I shall examine here the views of the Morality Society (the Daodehui) about women and the narratives of its women lecturers during the early 1930s in the

Japanese puppet state of Manzhouguo. The Society was founded in Shandong in 1918, and Kang Youwei served as its president in the 1920s, until he died in 1928.[26] The Society had a strong syncretic religious character through much of the 1920s (presumably when Kang was alive), but the religious component seemed to have waned by the 1930s, when its focus on morality and charity gained salience. Nonetheless, in identifying its source of moral inspiration, the founder of the Society, Wang Fengyi, declared that all three historical religions in China pointed to the permanence of the moral: Confucianism holds that without righteousness, wealth and nobility are like passing clouds; Buddhism, that that which has form must die; Daoism, that only good and evil are without form and so have a long existence. Thus morality persists and gives meaning to the universe, and it is the morality of the East that will save the universe from the materialism and destructiveness of the West.[27]

The Morality Society flourished in Manzhouguo—as did other similar organizations—because of state support and patronage of its activities. As organizations that promoted a civilizational ideal, these redemptive societies, as well as many secret societies that valued traditional Confucian ideals like zhong and yi, were attractive to the Japanese imperialists from the early 1930s, when they developed the ideology of pan-Asianism and Eastern civilizational values versus Western materialism. According to Japanese researchers and officials of the puppet administrations in north China, these societies claimed to command enormous followings. Thus the Fellowship of Goodness claimed a following of 30 million in 1929, and the Red Swastika Society, a following of 7 to 10 million in 1937.[28] However, Chinese nationalist intellectuals and scholars have tended to ignore them, and those who do care to mention them cite lower figures. Thus Wing-tsit Chan cites a figure of thirty thousand members (not followers) for the Red Swastika Society in 1927.[29] Further he dismisses these societies as "negative in outlook, utilitarian in purpose, and superstitious in belief."[30]

Given the paucity of Chinese data on these societies, the best we can do is to interrogate the Japanese records. While we can assume that the Japanese researchers may have wanted to exaggerate the numbers in these groups, there was also a concern for accuracy since these surveys were conducted principally to assess the potential for support for and opposition to their rule. The figures cited above refer to the spread of these societies all over China largely before the Japanese Occupation. A cursory glance at materials in the Number Two Historical Archives in Nanjing originally compiled at the county and city level during the Japanese Occupation of north China reveals an enormous number of these and other religious societies registered with the local government during this period; the total figure for participants or followers of all societies within a single county or city often reached beyond tens of thousands. Given that many of these were first registered only after 1937, it is not clear to what extent they may have emerged in response to the Occupation itself; but many, especially the many religious societies, clearly predated the Occupation.


Although a fuller analysis of this problem is the subject of another essay, my provisional interpretation of these materials is that a good number of traditional religious societies—secret societies as well as modern redemptive societies—existed and flourished during the Republic; but because of nationalist disapproval and governmental repression, they were forced into clandestine or semiclandestine status. As we shall see below, the Japanese regime in both Manzhouguo and north China sought to utilize these societies selectively, but I do not think that this should, ipso facto, disqualify these societies from being considered seriously.[31] As societies with civilizational or religious ideals, they may have considered the issue of a national government as less important than the ability to pursue their vision of a transnational community. However disingenuous the Occupation regime may have been, these societies must have seized the opportunity to operate openly in public, often for the first time. To disregard or condemn them would testify to our complicity with a nationalist narrative that imposes the stark choice of collaborator or patriot upon those who sought to live their lives as they might in any society.

At the time the Morality Society encountered the Manzhouguo regime, there was a remarkable convergence of ideological interests between it and certain currents in Japan. Similar "redemptive" societies in Japan, such as the Shibunkai, offering Confucianism and Shinto as the spiritual alternative to excessive materialism and individualism had begun to grow in strength during the 1920s, particularly as economic conditions worsened and social unrest grew. Asiatic moral systems emphasizing ethical responsibilities were celebrated as alternatives to capitalism and Marxism, both Western doctrines.[32] In the 1930s, the redemptive rhetoric of elite Confucian societies and the right-wing nationalists and militarists not only began to come together but was also assimilated in an active political and educational program by the Japanese government.[33]

By the 1930s, the Manzhouguo state, which drew its real power from the Japanese military, inherited an ideology and language with which to forge an alliance with the redemptive societies in northeast China. Like the KMT government in Nanjing, the Manzhouguo government censured the "superstitious" character of the redemptive societies, but instead of seeking to eradicate the societies themselves it saw the potential for their transformation into state-controlled civic organizations.[34] In this new political framework, the Manzhouguo branch of the Morality Society, which severed ties with its headquarters in Beijing in 1932, became, under the supervision of the Manzhouguo government, a jiaohua (kyōka in Japanese) organization—an agency engaged in the welfare and enlightenment of the people.[35] Indeed the transition from a more religious orientation to morality and charity in this Society is probably attributable to its closer supervision by the state.[36]

The Morality Society was perhaps the most elite Chinese organization among all such societies in Manzhouguo. Its membership and officeholders boasted top officials, merchants, and landowners at all levels of Manzhouguo society, from the

major cities to the subcounty townships. The message of peace, morality, and spiritual salvation of the world by the East befitted these successors of the old gentry elite. As a jiaohua agency it revealed a strong propagandist urge. It put great stock by its cadres or activists (shi), who were characterized as benevolent and resolute.[37] Through their activities in schools, their lectures, their spreading of baihua (vernacular) commentaries of classical morality, and through establishing popular enlightenment societies to "reform popular customs and rectify the people's minds and hearts," the Society propounded a strong rhetoric of reaching out to all—rich and poor, men and women.[38] By 1934, the 312 branches of the Manzhouguo Society operated 235 "righteous" or "virtuous" schools, 226 lecture halls, and 124 clinics.[39]

The records of this Society allow us to see how it evolved historically from the gentry culture of the late empire. In the biographies of model figures honored in the 1930s for their virtuous and moral actions frequently undertaken in the first two decades of the twentieth century, before the Society was founded, filiality and loyalty are often cited.[40] But the bulk of such honors are granted to men and women who established, managed, or contributed money for "virtuous and chaste girls' schools" (zhennü yixue; baonü yixueyuan). Moreover, while the biographies of model individuals traceable in these records to the late nineteenth century indicate that temple building and repairs were common activities in the last years of that century, by the Republican period the establishment of these schools may have become a more common virtuous activity than contributions to building temples or arches dedicated to chaste widows. Doubtless, the emphasis upon virtuous girls' schools developed with the spread of female education in public institutions. The pages of the journal Funü zazhi in the early 1920s are filled with essays about the problem of having boys and girls in the same class, and Lu Xun both records and satirizes this anxiety among gentry men in "Soap."[41] Virtuous girls' schools represented a core institutional means to manage a generalized anxiety about the loosening of morals and fundamental values, an anxiety that became increasingly focused upon the bodies of females. Thus, one woman claimed that she only really understood what it meant to read after her father transferred her from a regular school to a virtuous school. Learning to read was not true learning unless reading could shape the body and its conduct (xing dao shenshang, na jiao shizi).[42]

The twentieth-century discourse on female virtue found here is clearly continuous with the cult of chaste widows and virtuous wives of late imperial times.[43] Descriptions of the establishment of the virtuous schools are couched in the language of this tradition: model men and women who had established virtuous schools were inspired by chaste women's biographies in the Lienü zhuan (Records of Chaste Women), as well as by the personal examples of chaste widows and virgins in the family. But inevitably, there was also a shift in the meaning of female virtue. Just as nationalists like Wang Jingwei in the KMT reorganized the role and meaning of the ideal women, so too in the Morality Society; as the figure of woman pervaded the space of authenticity, it became the site for reconstructing tradition. It is hardly possible to characterize the attitude of this Society as an expression of nationalism,

since the Society operated under a puppet regime, but many of these modern redemptive societies in Manzhouguo developed an authenticity derived from the same sources as did KMT nationalism or the kind of conservative middle-class ideology that Lu Xun satirized. While nationalists sought to preserve a national essence in the evolutionary process, the Morality Society sought to preserve an East Asian essence while acknowledging the necessity of material evolution.[44]

Among the records of the Society, the Oral Records of Morality Seminars of the Third Manzhouguo Morality Society, held in 1936 in Xinjing (Changchun), comprise an extraordinarily revealing text of over three hundred pages of personal narratives and testimonials of the leaders and teachers of the Society, who taught in its righteous schools and went around the country giving lectures on morality. The bulk of these narratives is organized around five categories drawn from the classical tradition: zhiming (to know your fate), zhixing (to know your nature), jinxin (to devote your heart and mind, to devote yourself), and lishen (to establish your self or body); in turn lishen is often divided into lizhi (to resolve your will) and liye (to fulfill an enterprise or profession). Finally, there is the category zhizhi (to know your limits).[45] Participants in the seminar made presentations about how their lives were guided by the appropriate morality within each of these categories. We hear the life stories of about twenty-five women and an equal number of men, although the total number of speaking men was greater because of the many introductory speeches made by Manzhouguo civil and military officials. From the speeches and narratives of both the men and the women, I shall try to construct an image of how woman is constituted as a subject. From the personal narratives of the women I will try to demonstrate the gap between the constituted subject and the enunciating subject. The enunciating subject seeks to negotiate this interpellative gap in a variety of ways, even as she derives meaning and spiritual sustenance—identity—from the constituting ideology or pedagogy.[46]

The introductory lectures by officials inevitably stressed the mediating role of the Society between the state and the family. The Manzhouguo police were closely associated with the project for moral renewal of the citizenry. The head of the Capital Police Bureau declared that in order to attain national goals and renew the people, it was first necessary to cleanse the people's hearts. While this was the indirect responsibility of the nation-state, it was more directly the responsibility of such agencies as the Morality Society. Such societies should bond the people to the state (guanmin yizhi) by nourishing ethical attitudes and duties toward the family, society, and the nation.[47] Employing an orthodox Confucian rhetoric, these officials repeatedly emphasized the central importance of the five ethical relationships in constructing a chain of loyalty to the state.[48] This is how Tachibana Shiraaki formulated the logic: "Morality is the basis of belief, whereas superstition has no basis in morality. The youth at home must believe in the elders, the wife in the husband, and the husband in the wife. If there is no harmony within the family, then there will be no harmony in society and no harmony in the nation. The Morality Society thus represents the progress [jinbu] of morality."[49]


The goals of the nation-state could be fulfilled only when the family was strong, when husbands were righteous and wives obedient. Within the family, the ideal moral roles for men and women were very different. Masculine virtues were represented by loyalty, incorruptibility, bravery, and self-restraint. On several occasions in their narratives, men recounted as virtue the self-control by which they restrained the urge to beat their wives. One of them indicated that in showing restraint he was expressing his filiality because both of his marriages had been arranged by his mother.[50] Director Feng (Feng zhuren) was once faced with a serious moral crisis when his youngest wife threw his baby son on the floor: seized by a desire to avenge his progeny, he was about to strike her when he recognized the virtue of self-restraint.[51] Female virtue often entailed following the three obediences (sancong). The locus classicus of this doctrine is the Book of Rituals (Yili sangf u zhuan), which says that a woman should obey her father before marriage, her husband upon marriage, and her son upon the husband's death. But in the pedagogy of the Society, as we shall see, obedience on the part of women did not necessarily entail confinement to the household. It was more that the ideal woman was shaped (or regulated) by the virtues of the family and by the reproduction of these virtues in the righteous schools and the Morality Society itself.

It was thus in the representation of the family, and the special role of women within it as repositories of the essence of (all that was good in) tradition, that the new middle-class patriarchy made common cause with the Manzhouguo state. Woman became the upholder of the "new family" that was the basis of citizenship.[52] The new family was morally pure, selfless, and committed to moral regeneration of the world by adhering to the "kingly way" (wangdao).[53] Thus weddings were to be frugal and unostentatious since the goal was for the couple to achieve love and righteousness.[54] Women (and, to a lesser extent, men) were encouraged to rid themselves of jewelry and other accoutrements so that they could come to know their inner selves.[55] The Morality Society not only conducted lectures and ran schools but also organized many family research groups (jiating yanjiushe) in which the role of model wives and mothers was investigated. It was from these research societies that the righteous girls' schools received the knowledge necessary to improve women's service to the family and nation without their having to leave the home.[56]

The pedagogy of the Morality Society by no means merely reproduced the historical image of the ideal Confucian woman—whatever that may have been. It involved a representation of woman that was neither abject nor liberated in the way of the "Western woman." Wang Fengyi reported a conversation with a Christian pastor in which Wang reveals the inadequacy of historical religions. Wang declared that he believed in all religions since they all pointed to the same Way (dao), but he protested that these religions neglected or demeaned women in the education of the Way. He insisted that women should be educated and independent (liye) so that they could understand the Way.[57] Thus women's education was necessary both from the state's perspective of improving the family and home and from the Society's perspective of having them understand morality. The reconstructed tradition

here mobilized an image of woman that redefined her in accordance with modern discourse even while claiming a pristine traditionalism–East Asianism at the heart of the culture-and nation-building project.


Who were the women who joined these societies, particularly the lecturers? As lecturers, they must, at some level, have believed in the pedagogy. Like teachers everywhere, they expressed demoralization when few attended their lectures, and were gratified by a large turnout. Many of them were women with much grief in their lives. There were, among many others, those whose children had died young, those locked in loveless marriages, those who sought solace because a younger wife or concubine had been brought in to replace them, and those who were younger wives bullied by older wives and in-laws. Many were devout Buddhists and found the Society to be basically compatible with their Buddhist faith. These were women for whom the Morality Society offered a rationalization or justification of their fate, a means of coping with their difficult lives, and, often, spiritual solace. A woman named Tu declares that hers is the fate (ming) of a stepmother. At first neither the old nor the children treated her well no matter how hard she tried. But she has now come to understand her fate and has resolved her will (lizhi). Whereas earlier she had been addicted to drugs, now she is a vegetarian and feels no need for drugs. Indeed, she has acquired such strength and influence in her household that no one in her household takes drugs. A Mrs. Zhao states simply that earlier she would be sad when people called her "wife number two" (er taitai). Now she has learned to live with her fate (tianming), and she is happy. Mrs. Liu's in-laws got a "little sister" (a concubine) for her who was filial and sisterly, and so she had to learn to be a good elder sister. She decided to make up to her in-laws and husband by performing service to society, which she has done for the past ten years.[58]

But resignation, coping, and solace from grief and mistreatment were not the only meanings that women derived from their participation in the Morality Society. These narratives also reveal various strategies whereby women were able to maneuver the goals of the Society to secure advantage for themselves and for other women. This was hardly easy, because many women must have experienced the interpellative or constituting activity as a form of objectification. Counterrepresentations of the modern, Westernized woman were readily available to these women. Newspapers in Manzhouguo debated the issue of women's liberation, and until 1941 at least, often carried positive images of liberated, Western, and Westernized women. Indeed, it was the often unacknowledged irruption of elements of this discourse of the liberated woman into their own that enabled some of their maneuvers. Yet it is also clear that they accepted the virtue of filiality and even obedience to patriarchs. Most of all, they appeared to derive their inspiration and strength from the spirit of devotion and self-sacrifice—from that space of authenticity carved out by the pedagogy of the Society. For us, the challenge is to see

how they could be true to their subjectivity inscribed by the Morality Society while recovering some agency as enunciating subjects.

The first and perhaps most important difference between the discourse of these redemptive societies and the historical Confucian or patrilineal discourse on women was that the rhetoric of confining women to the home in these societies was balanced or countered by a valorization of public or social service.[59] Not only did these societies have an ideology of public service, but they were themselves part of the public sphere. As such, women who participated in them as members, whether as audience or lecturers, were, ipso facto, involved in activities outside the home. Recall that, even in the official articulations of the duty of the Society to create a nested hierarchy of moral obligation linking the individual to the state, the family was not directly linked to the state. This relationship was mediated by the need to fulfill a moral obligation to society. The view of society, or shehui, as a positively evaluated sphere of human—male and female—interaction represented a significant, though not necessarily recognized, departure from earlier historical discourses containing women within the domestic sphere.[60] Mrs. Zhao was one who did recognize the significant difference: "Those of you under the age of forty have had the benefit of a modern education and may work outside the home. Those of us over forty are barely literate and we know little about affairs outside the home. Now this [Morality] society allows us to exchange knowledge: I can go to your home and you to mine; we are not restricted by being rich or poor…. From this it is clear that the future of women is bright. We can come and hear lectures everyday; we can obtain morality: the young can be filial to the old and the old can be kind. I hope my sisters will strive to build the future."[61]

The realm of the social, however, was rife with ambiguity and was emerging as an object of contestation. Even in Mrs. Zhao's comments, which reveal a deeply felt sense of liberation, moral development afforded by the emergence of the social was ultimately brought to bear to restore filiality. While many of the men acknowledged the importance of service to society, they believed that confining women, though not necessarily to the home, was the best possible way for society to develop. Just as the virtuous girls' school was the way to regulate the behavior of girls who were exposed to society, so too, for some of these men, women's participation in the Morality Society was itself an ideal way to control their activities outside the home. The director of the Society, Mr. Feng, had four wives, all of whom, he claimed, were happily involved with the Morality Society, and who regularly ketou (kowtowed) to its teachers.[62] Not everybody in the Society accepted this pattern of containment. Indeed, even among the leadership Wang was prominent in espousing women's education and independence. Girls and women sometimes reacted against efforts at containment. The investigator of a survey of social welfare organizations in Manzhouguo reported an episode at one of the virtuous schools that he witnessed in 1937 in Liaoyuan county.

The investigator, Takizawa Toshihiro, reported that the school and its dormitories were basically well maintained. It derived its income from a wool-weaving

workshop and a grain store. It had separate lecture halls for women citizens (funü shimin) appointed with a picture of the emperor Puyi and an altar to Confucius. On one of the days he was there, a vigorous discussion on the subject of "the spirit of nation-building and women in the family" (jianguo jingshen he jiating funü) followed a talk given by a lecturer from Fengtian (Shenyang). Takizawa was impressed by the dedication of the students and teachers to popular enlightenment and the way in which they criticized the old-fashioned attitude of the lecturer. Takizawa recommended that rather than preach homilies to these children, the Society should emphasize the teaching of practical life skills. In this way, they would learn from the scientization (kagakuka) of everyday life.[63]

Such reactions to the discursive and institutional efforts to channel women's behavior are less visible in the personal narratives. Nonetheless, the positive evaluation of the realm of the social or public in modern discourse, together with the ambivalence of the leaders (contrast Feng's behavior with Wang's comment on religions denying women), created opportunities that these women seized and utilized to the fullest extent.[64] A Mrs. Bai decided to give up the life of the inner quarters because she realized that the world of women was a very grasping one in which one could not be ethical. By giving lectures in society she can make a living, which permits her to support both her mother and mother-in-law. Thus she can be filial and moral without being dependent upon anyone, neither husband nor children.[65] A recently married woman accepted the foreordained role of the daughter-in-law to be like water: to serve all in the family with devotion—to be filial to her in-laws, help her husband attain a Buddhist nation, be kind to her children—and rid herself of vain desire. At the same time, women can follow the men and devote themselves to social good. Indeed, once one has satisfactorily served the in-laws, it is incumbent in the next phase to serve the world.[66]

Mrs. Chen reveals the significance of public service and the independence that it can bring to women. She emphasizes the utility and value of women in the family and the importance of these qualities in purifying the world and resolving to do good for society. She begins her narrative with an account of how her father-in-law brought her into the household because the education she received from her mother would bring good values into their home. These were the qualities that permitted lishen, the ability to establish oneself. In earlier periods, lishen, to the extent that it referred to women, referred to feminine bodily comportment within the domestic sphere. In a booklet of moral instruction for women that circulated in the late imperial period, lishen is described as a "way of being tranquil [qing] and chaste [zhen]. Tranquillity brings purity [jie] and chastity brings honor [rong]. While walking do not turn back your head; while speaking do not expose your teeth; while sitting, do not move your knees; while standing, do not raise your voice…. When of necessity you have to go out, be sure to veil your face…. Only when you establish your body in such proper and upright ways [lishen duanzheng] can you be a person [fang ke weiren]."[67]

The close connection between personhood and bodily comportment did not disappear during the Republic. Recall the comment of the woman who had

learned the true meaning of reading only after applying it to her bodily conduct. But this is not how Mrs. Chen uses lishen. Personhood for her depends on material independence. According to her, the best route to lishen is to set up a livelihood of one's own (liye). Now that Manzhouguo has entered the era of Datong, or the Great Unity, Mrs. Chen avers, women have plenty of opportunity to make a livelihood. Once they have set up a living, they can then devote themselves to the task of purifying the world (huozhe neng sheshen shujie). In this way, because one would not be working for money or fame, one could rid oneself of greed. Was this not the best way to lishen?[68]

Several points in this personal narrative deserve attention. First, observe the ease with which the meaning of lishen in one context (home) is transferred to another (society), where it may be subversive of the original context. Crucial to this transfer (and subversiveness) is not simply the valorization of social service but the corollary notion of financial autonomy. The notion of liye, often treated in these narratives as a subset of lishen, becomes one of the most important concerns of these women as they seek to establish a material base to enable their role as moral citizens of the Society and the world. Second, note the appropriation of the rhetoric of the Manzhouguo state. Many women were purposeful in their use of state rhetoric and tended to seize any rhetorical openings to advance the condition of women. Finally, there is the conflation of service in the outside world and moral purification of this world. It suggests that participation in the social world is subordinated to ethical and religious goals. These goals occupy the space of authenticity and inner meaning for the individual woman, but it is a space framed by the new patriarchy of the middle class and the state.

The interweaving of these three elements—appropriation of the rhetoric; the act of carving out a space, role, and basis for independent social action; and the employment of this autonomy to achieve the moral and religious goals of the Society—is, adjusting for individual details, a recurring pattern in the women's narratives. Note how Grandmother Cai elides over her unfiliality in an era when universal education has become an unquestioned value: at the age of thirty-three, Grandmother Cai confesses, she defied the wishes of the elders and went off to study. Now she is a grandmother and it is her responsibility to devote herself (jinxin) to the education of her children and grandchildren. She closes with the comment that she is a vegetarian, is deeply religious, and has tried to rid herself of vain desires. Here the value of women's education in wider society, in the modernist rhetoric of the Manzhouguo state as well as in strains within the Morality Society, allows her to justify an earlier act of unfilial behavior. She finesses filiality, however, not only with the superior card of universal education but also with the end play of devotion to spiritual virtues.[69]

The strategy, if it can be called such, is to detach oneself from one kind of pedagogical value but continue to derive meaning from the constitutive representation by emphasizing another of its qualities or values. Thus, while Grandmother Cai concluded her game by leaving the antagonist with the finessed filial card in

his hands, Mrs. Li, like several others, uses filiality to trump unquestioned obedience to her husband. Ever since she heard a leader of the Society talk about caring for his own mother, Mrs. Li determined to set up her own source of livelihood (liye) to care for her ailing mother. Since she had to go out of the home, her husband yelled at her and accused her of being unfaithful. She says that she has never loved any man other than her husband. But now her loving heart has set.[70] Mrs. Sun has had to care for her sick father and student brother. Her husband has had problems at work and cannot provide for all of them. She has been inspired by these wise words of the leader (shanren): "In devoting herself, the woman must not weary the husband; rather she should be able to help the husband obtain virtue," to set up an independent means of livelihood.[71]

The ideal of moral autonomy within lishen is sometimes interpreted in such a radical way that it subverts the very basis of the pedagogy: family values. Thus one Ms. Liu declares that her understanding of lishen includes the philosophy of single living—the merits of remaining unmarried (dushen zhuyi sixiang). We also see a kind of feminist filiality overcoming patriarchy. A Mrs. Liu recalls that her mother was ordered back to her natal home. She and her brother were not permitted to visit her. Later she and her brother devoted themselves to restoring the family and she established a source of livelihood for her mother. This woman goes on to challenge the sages. She says, "The sages ask us to follow the three male figures [sancong] and learn from our husbands. We listen to our husbands, but they do not hear us. My husband eats meat and is not very virtuous, whereas I have only eaten meat once and I am a filial daughter-in-law. Should I not be the one from whom he should learn the Way? But he was formed early, and I am incapable of helping him. Anyway, I am not much concerned about my marriage."[72] Note, however, even in this last episode, the filial link to the mother appears to be the driving sentiment for Mrs. Liu.

Perhaps the episode that best reveals the inseparability of the search for autonomy and the commitment to the moral values of the Society is narrated by the same Mrs. Chen who urged women to take advantage of the job opportunities for them in Manzhouguo. "I was once sent to Beijing to lecture, but my husband followed me and insisted that I return home. Why is it that men can bully women so? I asked the teacher [shanren] if I should return. He replied, ‘You may return. What do you have to fear? All you have to know is whether or not you have the will.’ I returned. In Tianjin I was asked whether I returned of my own will. I nearly wept. I had resolved to return because I remembered that I could not violate my parents' will [ming]. The next time I left, I went away for four years. And so I am what I am today. The important thing is to know your own will [zhi]. It is how and why people make up their minds that is important, not the decision itself. I believe it is important to be filial…. When you have an independent income you are not only, as the teacher says, the iron master [tie caizhu], you become the golden master [jin caizhu]."[73]

I want to dwell on this moving and complex narrative not because of the way this woman, like so many others, has grasped the importance of outside service

and financial independence, or because of her perception of the continued importance of filiality. Rather I am struck by the thought that the source of strength and resolve for this last woman derives precisely from the very ideology that constrains her in so many other ways. It is by knowing her mind and cultivating her resolve (lizhi) that she is able to establish her independence from her husband despite the constraints. The ideas in the proceedings of the conference that most restrict women are contained in the segment entitled zhizhi, to know the limits. The doctrine invoked most often as a constraint, and indeed, as self-constraint, is that of the three obediences, or sancong. When faced by such constraints, one as strong and gifted as Mrs. Chen can still pick her way around them, but that is not necessarily true for many other women. Mrs. Chen acknowledges the importance of these obediences but does not dwell upon them at length. From our fathers, she says, we can know our nature, from our husbands our fate, and through our sons we can establish ourselves (lishen). She does not elaborate upon what she means by lishen here, but moves immediately to the differences in the ways in which her parents were "good people" and the way she can be a morally pure person. Her parents were good people of a village or county; she is a good citizen of the entire nation, and indeed the world.[74] Once again she invokes the expanded community of moral service to elude these constraints.

But not all the women were as skillful as Mrs. Chen. Mrs. Zhao says that her greatest aspiration is to be a man, so much so that she sometimes forgets that she is a woman. But her nature is that of a woman, her mind is that of a woman, and her body is that of a woman. She needs to remind herself constantly about these constraints. Another woman cites the sages to acknowledge to herself that a woman, in her duty to observe the three obediences, must recognize the limits of her freedom. Mrs. Liu believes that having a woman's heart, she was not filial to her in-laws and did not obey her husband (congf u). Consequently, they brought a "sister" into the household. Now she tries to be a good wife and obeys her husband dutifully. Although they are poor, they are pure inside.[75] Thus we are returned to the pedagogy of authenticity.


What difference does it make that the alternative vision of modernity and modern subjectivity espoused by the redemptive societies flowered under a Japanese rule that conducted brutal military experiments and engaged in horrifying violence in its occupation of China? While we ourselves may not be particularly sympathetic to their redemptive vision, to tar these people with the brush of collaborationism is to slip into an easy nationalist moralism that was immoral to them. The goal of these societies was to attain a level of moral and spiritual commitment that would enable the individual to transcend the walls of nationality and ethnicity. The Manzhouguo government constructed a space for them—for the first time—in which to operate and flourish, and they responded, I believe, with considerable enthusiasm.

Indeed, the nationalist condemnation forces the question: can a Chineseness be denied to those who seek their identity in their own cosmopolitan traditions? At the same time, it is undeniably true that this regime often subverted these ideals for its own imperialist or militarist purposes. But how far can we go in holding a people responsible for the state's manipulation of their ideals? Does this responsibility authorize our dismissal or condemnation of the varied, and even mixed, motives behind a mostly ordinary people's pursuit of their goals and ideals?

Similarly undeniable is the reality of women's subjugation within the Morality Society. I have cited the constraints on the women toward the end of my essay in order to remind myself of the limits of interpretation, to acknowledge the extent to which the pedagogy did shape the women's subjectivity. Yet just as I believe that an abstract master narrative of the nation cannot deliver the full or final judgment on a person's sense of value, I am impressed by the extent to which the enunciating woman was able to carve out an autonomy within the modern patriarchy.

To be sure, there were divisions of opinion among the men of the Morality Society itself that gifted women were able to exploit. But I would like to propose that discourses and representations that structure the reality of the individual are unable to prevent the irruption of elements from alternative or ambient discourses into their language, in this case the irruption of elements from the discourse of the modern woman and, even more, from the discourse of the ideal of universal public service and economic independence. This transformation is often disguised metaleptically—by the continued usage of an older language that has come to signify a different, newer meaning—as with the transformation of lishen and liye, which accompanied the emergence of the social realm. Discursive irruption into the interior space of authenticity from alternative discourses did not occur only among conservative or traditionalizing societies. While the May Fourth view of the nation had little place for the tropes of the past, there was a discursive split in its imagery of woman. In the wartime writings and propaganda of many May Fourth activists, the nation was depicted in the historical figure of a chaste woman raped by an aggressor—an irruption of both past and contemporary, conservative representations of woman and nation into the May Fourth Movement's vision of modernity.[76]

At the same time, the women's enunciation of the rhetoric of the Morality Society should not be mistaken as purely instrumental manipulation. These women were not one-dimensional rational actors who manipulated language to maximize their utility. Some critiques of the idea of hegemony come dangerously close to such a position. James Scott's interesting work on subaltern groups who pay lip service to or use the "hegemonic" ideology to pursue practices from a hidden transcript suggests a flexible view of ideology that is welcome, but its instrumentality is overdrawn.[77] The women lecturers of the Morality Society were people who maneuvered the language in the same moment in which they were constituted by it. The moral and spiritual goals that pervaded the space of authenticity enabled a defiance of pedagogy even while they limited the behavior and identities of these

women. As spirituality and filiality were reinforced in deeply personal ways, the authentic space continued to both inspire and constrain subjects, and its inviolability itself was not challenged. But its meaning was changed.


I am particularly thankful to Li Haiyan for her superb help as a research assistant on this project. I am also thankful to the participants of the conference on "Becoming Chinese" who commented on the paper I presented, which became this chapter. Thanks are also due Susan Mann, Thomas Pixely, Joan Scott, Mayfair Yang, and others who gave me valuable comments. Some of the materials in this paper have also appeared in Prasenjit Duara, "The Regime of Authenticity: Timelessness, Gender, and National History in Modern China," History and Theory 37 (October 1998), 287–308; and in Duara, "Transnationalism and the Predicament of Sovereignty: China, 1900–1945," American Historical Review (October 1997): 1030–51.

1. On the intellectual history, see Charlotte Furth, The Limits of Change: Essays on Conservative Alternatives in Republican China (Cambridge, Mass., 1976). [BACK]

2. Kai-wing Chow, The Rise of Confucian Ritualism in Late Imperial China: Ethics, Classics, and Lineage Discourse (Stanford, Calif., 1994), 21–25. [BACK]

3. Takayoshi Suemitsu, Shina no mimi kaisha to jishan kaisha (China's secret societies and charitable societies) (Dalian, 1932), 354. [BACK]

4. Wanguo Daodehui Manzhouguo zonghui bianjike, ed., Manzhouguo Daodehui nianjian (Yearbook of the Manzhouguo Morality Society), vol. 4 (Xinjing: Wanguo Daodehui Manzhouguo zonghui bianjike, 1934), 1. Hereafter known as MDNJ. See also Takizawa Toshihiro, Shūkyōchōsa shiryo (Materials from the survey of religions), vol. 3: Minkan shinyō chōsa hokokusho (Report on the survey of popular beliefs) (Xinjing, 1937), 67. [BACK]

5. Chen Lifu, Xin shenghuo yu minsheng shiguan (New Life and the Minsheng conception of history), Geming wenxian, vol. 68: Xin shenghuo yundong shiliao (Taipei, 1976), 128. [BACK]

6. Ibid., 133. [BACK]

7. Otani Komme, Shyūkyō chōsa shiryo (Materials from the survey of religions), vol. 2: Kirin, Kento, Binko, kakosho shūkyō chōsa hōkoku (Report on religious surveys of the various provinces of Jilin, Jiandao, and Binjiang) (Xinjing, 1937), 69, 123; Suemitsu, Shina no mimi kaisha, 251, 255. [BACK]

8. Prasenjit Duara, Rescuing History from the Nation: Questioning Narratives of Modern China (Chicago, 1995), chap. 3. [BACK]

9. Suemitsu, Shina no mimi kaisha, 302. [BACK]

10. See Chow, Rise, 22–24, for late imperial syncretism. [BACK]

11. Suemitsu, Shina no mimi kaisha, 292–305. [BACK]

12. Ibid., 262–63. [BACK]

13. Ibid., 266, 326–28;Takizawa, Shūkyō chōsa shiryo, 76–78;Wing-tsit Chan, Religious Trends in Modern China (New York, 1953), 164–67. [BACK]

14. Louis Althusser, "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (Notes towards an Investigation)," in Lenin and Philosophy (New York, 1971). [BACK]

15. The anxiety associated with the linear representation of phenomenological time— time as a succession of instants, of nows—seeks resolution through structures of continuity.

This is the role of the unchanging in evolution or what Derrida has called the "intemporal kernel of time." In Derrida, this intemporal kernel is the elusive "now," which is related to other categories of presence such as being, essence, and substance. Yet like them, the now can never truly escape time, that is, cannot escape being-past or being-future, rather than being-present (Jacques Derrida, "Ousia and Gramme: Note on a Note from Being and Time," in Margins of Philosophy, trans. Alan Bass [Chicago, 1982], 40). Linear history, which recapitulates the aporia of linear time, has to develop an artifice that allows it to narrate over the succession of "nows," to negotiate or conceal the gap between the deadness of the past and the need for it (Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative [Chicago, 1984, 1988], 1 [1984]: 1–30; 3 [1988]: 138–41). For linear histories this artifice is the subject of history—the nation, race, or class. At the same time that the subject enables history as the living essence of the past, it also enables a freedom from the past: that which evolves is that which remains even as it changes. For a more detailed examination of the relationship between authenticity and time, see Duara, "Regime." [BACK]

16. Similarly, by "tradition" I refer not to some abiding essence or primordial inheritance, a view found both in nationalist and modernization paradigms of our times. I see it rather as a discursive production, an inheritance that is resignified in the inheriting process—a representation (See Duara, Rescuing History, chap. 3). It is precisely because the past is reproduced or coproduced by the present that there is so much diversity and contestation over tradition, and that characterizations of this tradition are so changeable over time. [BACK]

17. Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories (Princeton, 1993), chap. 6. [BACK]

18. Ibid., chaps. 6–7. [BACK]

19. Norma Diamond, "Women under Kuomintang Rule: Variations on the Feminine Mystique" Modern China 1, no. 1 (1975): 6–7. [BACK]

20. Mao Dun, "Mud," in Furrows: Peasants, Intellectuals, and the State: Stories and Histories from Modern China, comp. and ed. Helen F. Siu (Stanford, 1990), 33–39. [BACK]

21. Lu Xun, "Wozhi jielieguan" (My views on chastity), in Fen, in Lu Xun Quanji, vol. 1 (1918;reprint, Taipei, 1989), 101–13. [BACK]

22. Lu Xun, "Feizao" (Soap), in Panghuang, in Lu Xun Quanji, vol. 2 (1924;reprint, n.p., Lu Xun Quanji chubanshe, 1927), 189–207. For a fuller interpretation of Lu Xun's writings on this subject, see Prasenjit Duara, "Regime." [BACK]

23. Kazuko Ono, Chinese Women in a Century of Revolution, 1850–1950, trans. and ed. Joshua Fogel (Stanford, 1989), 27. [BACK]

24. Wang Jingwei, "Duiyu nüjiede ganxiang" (Reflections on women's world), Funü zazhi 10, no. 1 (1924): 106–7. [BACK]

25. Ibid., 108. [BACK]

26. MDNJ, 1:1. [BACK]

27. Hailing from Chaoyang county in Rehe, Wang Fengyi (1864–1937) was a self-educated, rural intellectual who synthesized the theory of the five conducts (based on the five elements) and yinyang cosmology with the teachings of the three religions into a single doctrine. The careers of Wang and intellectuals like him (and the adoption and promotion of Wang and others by metropolitan elites) need to be studied much more fully (see Lin Anwu, "Yin dao yi li jiao—yi Wang Fengyi ‘shierzi xinchuan’ wei gaixin zhankai" [Establishing the "way" as religion—explorations of Wang Fengyi's "twelve character teachings"], in Zhonghua minzu zongjiao xueshu huiyi lunwen fabiao [Publication of the conference on

the study of Chinese religion] [Taipei, 1989], 11–19). See also Manzhouguo Daodehui bianjike (Manzhouguo Morality Society editorial department), ed., Disanjie Manzhouguo Daodehui daode jiangxi yulu (Oral records of morality seminars of the third Manzhouguo Morality Society), pt. 3 (Xinjing, 1936), 1. Hereafter known as DMDY. [BACK]

28. The membership figure for the Fellowship of Goodness comes from Suemitsu, Shina no mimi kaisha, 252. The figure for the Red Swastika Society comes from Takizawa, Shūkyō chōsa shiryo, 67. [BACK]

29. Chan, Religious Trends, 164. However Wing-tsit Chan does note that the Fellowship of Goodness claimed more than a thousand branches in all parts of China proper and Manchuria in 1923 (165). Suemitsu believes that the Red Swastika had a following of 3 million in 1932 (Suemitsu, Shina no mimi kaisha, 302). [BACK]

30. Chan, Religious Trends, 167. [BACK]

31. To be sure, many of these societies—especially the religious societies—were also militarily opposed to Japanese rule. See especially Takizawa, Shūkyō chōsa shiryo, on the Zaijiali. [BACK]

32. Warren H. Smith Jr., Confucianism in Modern Japan: A Study of Conservatism in Japan's Intellectual History (Tokyo, 1959), 123–26. [BACK]

33. Ibid., 154–66. To be sure, this was a synthetic rhetoric that not only sought to combine Eastern spirituality with Western civilization but also Confucianism with native Japanese traditions. Japan was depicted, especially after the Chinese Republican revolution, as the true leader and champion of Confucianism and Eastern morality—a depiction used to justify intervention in China (145). [BACK]

34. Takizawa, Shūkyō chōsa shiryo, 82–86, 100–102. [BACK]

35. Carol Gluck, Japan's Modern Myths: Ideology in the Late Meiji Period (Princeton, 1985), 103; and Sheldon Garon, "Women's Groups and the Japanese State: Contending Approaches to Political Integration, 1890–1945," Journal of Japanese Studies 19, no. 1 (1993): 5–41. [BACK]

36. The story of the tensions between the Society and the Manzhouguo government over religious worship, account-keeping, school curricula, and ties with secret societies, as well as ideological clashes with progressive groups within Manzhouguo, is a very revealing one and belongs to another history (MDNJ, 2:14–16, 25–35, 42–45). [BACK]

37. Ibid., 4:2. [BACK]

38. Ibid., 2:36–42; 4:117, 118; 8:22–23. [BACK]

39. Ibid., 1:21. [BACK]

40. DMDY, 1:10–58. [BACK]

41. Lu, "Feizao"; Kang Baiqing, "Du Wang jun Zhuomin daxue buyi nannü tongxiao lun shangdui" (A response to Mr. Wang Zhuomin's essay on the inappropriateness of coeducation in our universities), Funü zazhi 4 (1918): 11;Wang Zhuomin, "Lun wuguo daxue shang buyi nannü tongxiao" (On the inappropriateness of coeducation in our universities), Funu zazhi 4 (1918): 5;Yan Shi, "Nannü tongxue yu lian'ai shang de zhidao" (Coeducation and guidance on amorous relationships), Funu zazhi 9 (1923): 10. [BACK]

42. DMDY, 4:142. [BACK]

43. Mark Elvin, "Female Virtue and the State in China," Past and Present 104 (1984); Charlotte Furth, "The Patriarch's Legacy: Household Instructions and the Transmission of Orthodox Values," in Orthodoxy in Late Imperial China, ed. Kwang-ching Liu (Berkeley, Calif., 1984); Dorothy Ko, Teachers of the Inner Chambers: Women and Culture in Seventeenth Century China (Stanford, 1994). See also Chow, Rise. [BACK]


44. MDNJ, 1:1; 4:1–2. Although we do not think of Manzhouguo as a nation-state, it did, in fact, possess a highly developed rhetoric of a new type of nation unifying the different races of the area (xiehe guojia). However, since its rhetoric had to balance the assertion of national independence with its political dependence upon Japan, the nation was only one of the "ultimate" communities that it emphasized; the other was East Asia. [BACK]

45. Hanyu da cidian quotes passages from the representative texts in which these categories occur: zhiming can be found in the text Yijing, zhixing and jinxin in Mengzi, zhizhi in Liji, lishen in Xiaojing, lizhi in Hou Hanshu, and liye in Hanji. [BACK]

46. See Homi Bhabha on enunciation: "The reason a cultural text or system of meaning cannot be sufficient unto itself is that the act of cultural enunciation—the place of utterance—is crossed by the difference of writing…. It is this difference in the process of language that is crucial to the production of meaning and ensures, at the same time, that meaning is never simply mimetic or transparent." See Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London, 1994), 36. [BACK]

47. DMDY, 3:4–5, 38. [BACK]

48. Three of these relationships—between father and son, older and younger brothers, husband and wife—concern stabilizing family ties; the fourth relationship between friends connects horizontally across families; and the fifth between subject and monarch links the family to the state. [BACK]

49. MDNJ, 11:29. [BACK]

50. DMDY, 4:221–23. [BACK]

51. Ibid., 4:97. [BACK]

52. It is interesting to explore the extent to which this discourse on family and the nation-state in Manzhouguo, especially before 1941, paralleled or was influenced by other midcentury nationalist and fascist discourses in Europe and Asia. [BACK]

53. DMDY, 4:134. [BACK]

54. MDNJ, 10:6; 12:24. [BACK]

55. DMDY, 4:151. [BACK]

56. MDNJ, 2:41; 4:27. Thus, the weekly curriculum of the virtuous girls' schools was standardized to devote 2 hours for self-cultivation; 3 for the study of the classics; 5 for art, needlework, and music; 8 for Chinese; 2 for Japanese; 2 for history; 2 for geography; 6 for math; and 2 for nature study (MDNJ, 2:1–3). [BACK]

57. DMDY, 4:207. Note, however, that Wang's household was probably very patriarchal. When his daughter-in-law was brought in marriage into their home, she fell into a depression and returned to her uncle's home. Wang claims that after he spoke to her, she happily returned to their home (4:157). [BACK]

58. Ibid., 4:90, 94, 138. [BACK]

59. See Furth, "Patriarch's Legacy"; Chow, Rise; Elvin, "Female Virtue"; and Susan Mann, Precious Records: Women in China's Long Eighteenth Century (Stanford, 1997). [BACK]

60. Furth, "Patriarch's Legacy." [BACK]

61. MDNJ, 11:30. To be sure, the recent work of Susan Mann and others has shown that the high moralism confining women to the home was a consequence of the Confucian "classical revival" of the eighteenth century and should not be viewed as an eternal feature of imperial Chinese society (Mann, Precious Records, 22–31). These writers have also shown that despite all the rhetoric and measures designed to confine women to the home, there was still a great deal of physical mobility among women in late imperial society. [BACK]


62. DMDY, 4:53. [BACK]

63. Takizawa, Shūkyō chōsa shiryo, 94–95. [BACK]

64. In some ways, the realm of the social functioned like the nation as a legitimating force in providing alternative roles for women. As the sphere of collective activity it was certainly a most important component or building block of nationalist discourse. [BACK]

65. DMDY, 4:185. [BACK]

66. Ibid., 4:134–35. [BACK]

67. Song Ruohua, Nü Lunyu (The analects of women) (Shanghai, [780?]), 3–5. [BACK]

68. DMDY, 4:181. [BACK]

69. Ibid., 4:137. [BACK]

70. Ibid., 4:140. [BACK]

71. Ibid., 4:139. A Mrs. Zhu recalled being so driven by anxiety when her stepmother arrived after her mother died, that she wore out fifteen pairs of shoes. Later she realized that her stepmother was not unkind and she herself had been unfilial. So, in order to make up for it, she set up a business for the two of them, and her selfish feelings dissolved (4:130). [BACK]

72. Ibid., 4:132, 188, 231. [BACK]

73. Ibid., 4:181–82. [BACK]

74. Ibid., 4:227–28. [BACK]

75. Ibid., 4:219, 220, 236. [BACK]

76. In many ways, we may consider the simultaneously alternative and ambient discourses on women in Buddhism and Daoism in the late imperial period to have played a similar role in relation to the Confucian orthodoxy. Thus, despite the heavy rhetoric of "familial moralism" that redefined the position of the wife and marginalized the courtesan in the eighteenth century, women continued to find in Buddhism and Daoism an alternative sphere and the means to escape confinement to the home and patriarchy (Mann, Precious Records, 224–25). [BACK]

77. James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven, 1990). [BACK]

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