Family and State in Modern China: introducing the book Ancestral Leaves
Joseph W. Esherick, Professor of History,UC San Diego
RSVP required by 5PM February 9
In his new book, Ancestral Leaves, Esherick tells the story of one family through a tumultuous period of Chinese history. Through the lives of the Ye ("leaves" in Chinese) family members, we see the human dimensions of the grand narrative of modern China: the vast and destructive rebellions of the nineteenth century, the economic growth and social change of the republican era, the Japanese invasion in World War II, and the Cultural Revolution under the Chinese Communists. This is a story of social and political change told through family history.
The family endures but is transformed from a multi-generation extended family to a linked group of nuclear families. Gender roles evolve as women are educated for careers of their own. In the twentieth century, young people are influenced by new radical ideas from friends and school, and the brothers coming of age in the 1930s each charts a separate course during the War of Resistance to Japan: some becoming Communists, some working with the Nationalist Chinese regime, some joining the liberal Democratic League, and one studying in the U.S.. The choices they make during the war will fix their status under the new Communist regime, and when they are targeted during the Cultural Revolution, their families suffer with them.
In his talk on "Family and State in Modern China," Esherick will introduce Ancestral Leaves and explore some implications of the book for our understanding of the relationship between the family and the state in modern Chinese history.
Joseph W. Esherick is Professor of Modern Chinese History at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of The Origins of the Boxer Uprising (UC Press) and co-editor of The Chinese Cultural Revolution as History, among many books.
**Books will be available for purchase at the event. **