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Bandits, neighbours, Japanese soldiers: Security threats and survival strategies in Taishan and Kaiping villages, 1937–1949

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Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
To say that the familial and cultural ties that bound Chinese society were severed or weakened and that "patriotism transcended regionalism, localism, and familism" during the Resistance War, as Diana Lary claims in The Chinese People at War, is too general. Nationalism and patriotism might have been priorities for urban intellectuals and elites, but such priorities were not necessarily shared by everyone. People at the rural grassroots in southern Guangdong did not share them. This thesis argues that Siyi villagers' survival tactics against security threats between 1937 and 1949 were borne out of self-preservation and localism, not nationalism. Based on oral interviews conducted in Hong Kong, Vancouver, and Burnaby of seniors who lived in Taishan or Kaiping villages between 1932 and 1949, this project examines the villagers' survival tactics and motives when faced with changing security threats during the prewar, wartime, and postwar periods. Village feuds, bandits, the Japanese armed forces, food scarcity, and traditional gender roles were the most dangerous threats facing villagers. The villagers' survival tactics reveal a pattern of independence from state institutions while relying on local and familial connections. Nationalism and patriotism did not impact Taishan and Kaiping villagers as much as localism did.
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Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Brown, Jeremy
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