The Crucible of Self: Chinese Diary Writing during the Period of War Mobilisation, 1937-1945

Intervention de Aaron William Moore (University of Edinburgh) dans le séminaire de Xavier Paulès (EHESS), Delphine Spicq (Collège de France), David Serfass (Inalco) et Victor Louzon (Université Paris-Sorbonne), « La Chine républicaine (1912-1949) : nouvelles approches historiques », mardi 3 mars 2020.

Date et heure

  • Mardi 3 mars 2020, 15h-17h


  • EHESS (Salle 4)
    105 bd Raspail – 75006 Paris


Many scholars believe that there is no substantial record of the Chinese people’s WWII experience, either because of low literacy rates or the attrition of historical documents due to conflict, revolution, and state suppression of the archives. In fact, there are many such documents, including diaries, in collections across mainland China, Taiwan, and even Japan. Apart from the value of examining these materials for the historical record, they present methodological and theoretical problems important not only for the study of modern China, but also for historians of war, society, and the self. This talk presents the history of diary writing in modern China, including accounts by young people, soldiers, and would-be revolutionaries. Drawing especially from the example of how historians contended with the opening of the Soviet archives in the 1990s, it is crucial to discuss the theoretical and methodolgical approaches to personal documents, including the relevance of ‘privacy’, social management, language philosophy, and historical memory. If the diary can reveal the mechanism by which individuals participate in the social creation of the self, it may well be among the most important documents for explaining the modern era.

Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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Monique Abud

Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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