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Archive for the 'World Civ-Cold War in East' Category

How Did Women Fare in China’s Communist Revolution?

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

While the Communist revolution brought women more job opportunities, it also made their interests subordinate to collective goals. Stopping at the household doorstep, Mao’s words and policies did little to alleviate women’s domestic burdens like housework and child care. And by inundating society with rhetoric blithely celebrating its achievements, the revolution deprived women of the private language with which they might understand and articulate their personal experiences.

When historians researched the collectivization of the Chinese countryside in the 1950s, an event believed to have empowered rural women by offering them employment, they discovered a complicated picture. While women indeed contributed enormously to collective farming, they rarely rose to positions of responsibility; they remained outsiders in communes organized around their husbands’ family and village relationships. Studies also showed that women routinely performed physically demanding jobs but earned less than men, since the lighter, most valued tasks involving large animals or machinery were usually reserved for men.

The urban workplace was hardly more inspiring. Women were shunted to collective neighborhood workshops with meager pay and dismal working conditions, while men were more commonly employed in comfortable big-industry and state-enterprise jobs. Party cadres’ explanations for this reflected deeply entrenched gender prejudices: Women have a weaker constitution and gentler temper, rendering them unfit for the strenuous tasks of operating heavy equipment or manning factory floors.

The state rolled out propaganda campaigns aimed at not only enlisting women in the work force but also shaping their self-perception. Posters, textbooks and newspapers propagated images and narratives that, devoid of any particularities of personal experiences, depicted women as men’s equal in outlook, value and achievement.

Read more from the NY Times

The Vietnam War, as Seen by the Victor

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

The event, known in the United States as the fall of Saigon and conjuring images of panicked Vietnamese trying to crowd onto helicopters to be evacuated, is celebrated as Reunification Day here in Hanoi. The holiday involves little explicit reflection on the country’s 15-year-plus conflict, in which North Vietnam and its supporters in the South fought to unify the country under communism, and the U.S. intervened on behalf of South Vietnam’s anti-communist government. More than 58,000 American soldiers died in the fighting between 1960 and 1975; the estimated number of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians killed on both sides varies widely, from 2.1 million to 3.8 million during the American intervention and in related conflicts before and after.

Vietnam War as Seen by the Victors

China, Communism, and Confuncianism

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

In class I try to question the degree to which and the ways in which the Chinese Communist Revolution was indeed a revolutionary break from Chinese traditions. The Economist likewise questions this. Here is a short summary of the argument I’ve been making for years. 

Vietnam war photo essay from the Atlantic

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

check out this three-part series. Harrowing. Mind bending. 

Five Myths About the Cold War

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Mark Kramer is director of Cold War Studies and a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Davis Center. More than 20 years since the U.S.S.R. disappeared, Russia’s incursion into Ukraine is renewing old rivalries and sparking talk of a new Cold War, with former KGB officer Vladimir Putin serving as the West’s latest foil in Moscow. But how apt is the comparison?

Let’s examine some myths that endure about the East-West stalemate.

How China’s millennials talk about Tiananmen Square

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Twenty-five years after June 4, 1989, even China’s educated youth have only a foggy understanding of the incident, and they’re skittish about discussing it openly. Textbooks don’t mention the violence that left hundreds, maybe thousands, dead in the streets of Beijing. The Chinese Internet has been scrubbed of all but the official accounts. (The first result on the search engine Baidu is a short article from People’s Daily concluding that the incident “taught the party and the people a useful lesson.”) The Chinese government has arrested dozens of people in recent weeks for planning or participating in events related to the anniversary, and police have warned foreign journalists not to cover the story. Still, most young Chinese people I approached were willing to talkas long as they could remain anonymous.

Red Guard Reunion: he class of 1967 still can’t criticize the icon

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

How had the class of 1967—a group of young people who came of age just as the Cultural Revolution was approaching its height—come to grips with their own role in this dark chapter in modern Chinese history?

The Vietnamese tribesmen who fought alongside American Special Forces

Saturday, January 4th, 2014

The indigenous Montagnards, recruited into service by the American Special Forces in Vietnam’s mountain highlands, defended villages against the Viet Cong and served as rapid response forces. The Special Forces and the Montagnards—each tough, versatile, and accustomed to living in wild conditions—formed an affinity for each other. In the testimony of many veterans, their working relationship with the Montagnards, nicknamed Yards, was a bright spot in a confusing and frustrating war.

The bond between America’s elite fighters and their indigenous partners has persisted into the present, but despite the best efforts of vets, the Montagnards have suffered greatly in the postwar years, at least in part because they cast their lot with the U.S. Army. In a war with more than its share of tragedies, this one is less often told but is crucial to understanding the conflict and its toll.

ATOMIC SECRETS, MISSING PERSONS AND GENERAL COLD WAR STRANGENESS

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

The Conelrad Blog is awesome…and disturbing

What We Learned From the Korean War

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Is Korea still, as it was called then, the Forgotten War? Unfortunately it is. But it shouldn’t be. The objectives, the conduct, and the conclusion of that war are significant in too many ways. This anniversary provides an occasion to remember them, and to honor those who served in that war.

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