Choosing “Hell”: Family migrants from Shandong and Manchukuo’s food rationing system in Harbin, 1942-1944

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-04-17
Identifier: 
etd20833
Keywords: 
Family migrants
Manchukuo
Food rationing system
Illegal grain purchase
Control law
Urban population evacuation
Abstract: 

This study examines the relationship between migrations from Shandong between 1942 and 1944 and Manchukuo’s food rationing system and the impact of rationing on the everyday life of migrants after their settlement in Harbin, the regional centre of North Manchukuo. Although Manchukuo’s food rationing policies discriminated against Chinese residents by providing them with inferior grains in insufficient quantities, they were nonetheless an impetus rather than an obstacle to migration from Shandong, especially to those who had family and relatives living in Manchukuo. After settling in Harbin, migrants still faced issues related to food because the Manchukuo government revised its food policies and reduced quotas. Moreover, they also faced urban population evacuations and vagrant sweeping campaigns designed to serve the needs of the Japanese empire. Therefore, migrants living in Harbin either purchased grain illegally or left the city as strategies for coping with Manchukuo policies that were unfavourable to them. Employing such theoretical frameworks as “extraordinary everydayness” and a grassroots approach and drawing from oral interviews conducted in Harbin, this project emphasizes the interaction between the state (Manchukuo) and commoners (Shandong migrants). It also emphasizes how Shandong migrants perceived and reacted to Japanese dominion in Manchuria, with a particular focus on the coping strategies they employed to maximize their chances of survival. This thesis argues that although Shandong migrants faced ethnically discriminatory wartime food policies in Manchukuo, they developed different strategies to ensure their survival after settlement, and many migrated voluntarily rather than as a result of Japan’s forced labour policy.

Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jeremy Brown
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of History
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.
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