Echoes of Chongqing: Women in Wartime China

Danke Li, Echoes of Chongqing: Women in Wartime China  (University of Illinois Press, 2009)

This collection of annotated oral histories records the personal stories of twenty Chinese women who lived in the wartime capital of Chongqing during China’s War of Resistance against Japan during World War II. By presenting women’s remembrances of the war, this study examines the interplay between oral history and traditional historical narrative, public discourse and private memories. The women interviewed came from differing social, economic, and educational backgrounds and experienced the war in a variety of ways, some of them active in the communist resistance and others trying to support families or pursue educations in the face of wartime upheaval. Their stories demonstrate that the War of Resistance had two faces: one presented by official propaganda and characterized by an upbeat unified front against Japan, the other a record of invisible private stories and a sobering national experience of death and suffering. The accounts of how women coped, worked, and lived during the war years in the Chongqing region recast historical understanding of the roles played by ordinary people in wartime and give women a public voice and face that, until now, have been missing from scholarship on the war.

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