Singing on the River by Igor Chabrowski, based on Sichuan boatmen’s work songs ( haozi), explores the little known world of mentality and self-representation of Chinese workers from the late 19th century until the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937). Chabrowski demonstrates how river workers constructed and interpreted their world, work, and gender in context of the dissolving social, cultural, and political orders. Boatmen asserted their own values, bemoaned exploitation, and imagined their sexuality largely in order to cope with their low social status. Through studying the Sichuan boatmen we gain an insight into the ways in which twentieth-century nonindustrial Chinese workers imagined their place in the society and appropriated, without challenging them, the traditional values.
Mission Stations and Local Adaption in Early Twentieth-Century Hunan
In Borrowed Place: Mission Stations and Local Adaption in Early Twentieth-Century Hunan Riika-Leena Juntunen creates a microhistorical narrative around the establishment, reception, and development of Lizhou protestant stations during the turbulent years of popular nationalism and early communist activity. The book examines the changing place identity around the stations from political, religious, ritual, cultural, and gendered perspectives, revealing a Chinese semi-religious community with varying motivations and in constant dialogue with its surroundings. The group developed its own normative code and hierarchy, and it offered both economic and religious benefits according to local models. Yet the developing political situation also meant it had to solve the question of anti-foreignism to be able to continue its existence.