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The Personal Past—Two Readings

The Personal Past—Two Readings e P Th ersonal Past—Two Readings ŗĕ Johns Hopkins University Joseph Esherick, Ancestral Leaves: A Family Journey through Chinese History. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011. 392 pp. $28 (paper). Gail Hershatter, The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011. 472 pp. $55 (cloth). What do we learn when we reconsider modern Chinese history from the vantage point of those who lived through it? Does our understanding of the grand narrative of key events change fundamentally when we think not in terms of the revolution or the state but in terms of life experience and memory? What happens when an empathic historian literally engages his or her sources in conversation? The authors of the two books under review offer radically different answers to these questions, even as they cover some of the same temporal ground. In The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past, Gail Hershatter uses oral interviews with rural women to call into question the inevitability of “campaign time” as an organizing prin- ciple. In Ancestral Leaves: A Family Journey through Chinese History, Joseph Esherick revisits the iconic events of modern Chinese history through the life experiences of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review University of Hawai'I Press

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © Research Institute of Korean Studies, Korea University
ISSN
2158-9666
eISSN
2158-9674

Abstract

e P Th ersonal Past—Two Readings ŗĕ Johns Hopkins University Joseph Esherick, Ancestral Leaves: A Family Journey through Chinese History. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011. 392 pp. $28 (paper). Gail Hershatter, The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2011. 472 pp. $55 (cloth). What do we learn when we reconsider modern Chinese history from the vantage point of those who lived through it? Does our understanding of the grand narrative of key events change fundamentally when we think not in terms of the revolution or the state but in terms of life experience and memory? What happens when an empathic historian literally engages his or her sources in conversation? The authors of the two books under review offer radically different answers to these questions, even as they cover some of the same temporal ground. In The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past, Gail Hershatter uses oral interviews with rural women to call into question the inevitability of “campaign time” as an organizing prin- ciple. In Ancestral Leaves: A Family Journey through Chinese History, Joseph Esherick revisits the iconic events of modern Chinese history through the life experiences of

Journal

Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture ReviewUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Dec 30, 2012

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