Friday, March 8, 2019

Margaret Mih Tillman's "Raising China's Revolutionaries"

Margaret Mih Tillman is an assistant professor of history at Purdue University.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Raising China's Revolutionaries: Modernizing Childhood for Cosmopolitan Nationalists and Liberated Comrades, 1920s-1950s, and reported the following:
From page 99:
In these early days of the Japanese Occupation, Westerners continued to run “the lone island” in ways that belied their true status as Western imperialists rather than auxiliary modernizers of the Chinese state. Nevertheless,the International Settlement also gave Chinese elites, especially those oriented to the West, an independent base to continue their operations during the war. Tensions in the International Settlement mounted as the United States increasingly came into conflict with Japan. In early 1941 the United States issued a blockade on Shanghai. Owing to concerns about the flight of financial assets from China, the U.S. Treasury froze Japanese and Chinese assets in the United States, rendering it difficult to wire money to China. The year 1941 thus marked a nadir for U.S. funding for Chinese child welfare, which halted temporarily before famine conditions forced the ROC to assume greater responsibility. In that same year Western missionaries noticed that collaborationist governments (established in 1938) also ramped up anti-Western sentiment and advised “loyal Chinese subjects” to build their own Christian Church, since all “religion must be united to the State,” in accordance with Japanese policies.

Even after the retreat of the ROC in November 1937, those who remained behind continued the work of the Shanghai NCWA [National Child Welfare Association]. National leaders like Kong Xiangxi left to serve the ROC, but many middling professionals stayed in Shanghai. Among them were Christians like Chen Heqin and Reverend Andrew Wu, as well as the Chinese Christian women who executed much of the wartime relief work. NCWA accountant Lin Kanghou (1876–1949), who had during the warfare of 1937 suggested diverting SFCO funds to attend to the wounded military, remained in Shanghai throughout the war. In 1938, acting as Shanghai NCWA treasurer from the Chung Wai Bank Building, Lin appealed to the French Settlement for funds to care for children sent by the court. To continue these operations after 1941, Lin registered the Shanghai NCWA with the Social Welfare Bureau of the Occupation government. He succeeded in petitioning ​the collaborationist Shanghai municipal government for subsidies. (In 1945 Lin was sentenced to six years imprisonment on charges of collaboration with the Japanese.) In Chongqing, Kong Xiangxi also continued correspondence via the International Settlement of Shanghai even after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Kong probably considered these ... [channels a clandestine maneuver to fortify ROC legitimacy behind enemy lines.​]
Page 99 appears at the beginning of the conclusion for Chapter Three: "The Calculus of Child Welfare: the Democratization of Fundraising for Shanghai, 1937-1942." As such, it's less evidentiary based (as would be the case for a middle section), or theoretical/comparative (as might be the case for an introductory section), and more broadly synthetic and narrative. That chapter covers the withdrawal of the Nationalist Chinese government in the wake of Japanese aggression, and shows that Chinese Christians were able to continue to conduct charity work in Shanghai’s International Settlement based on the privileges afforded to Americans, which remained in effect before Pearl Harbor. This context, I argue, highlighted the semi-colonial dimensions of transnational philanthropy (even when led by local Chinese) in ways that had been less obvious before; the specifically Christian character of the children's charity I focus on, the National Child Welfare Association, also became more prominent with the absence of the Nationalist Chinese state. The privation of war and the refugee crisis also pushed charity organizations to cooperate with outsider groups such as Buddhists, and to become more transparent in their fundraising activities and accounts. In that chapter, I also examine what I call the "democratization" of fundraising, from large, elite donors to small, private donors in both the US and in China. I examine new and more popular methods of fundraising, as well as minutes from charity organizations and their published records, to indicate this expansion, which included the sale of materials directed at children for the benefit of other children. Fundraisers argued that children were both uniquely vulnerable as well as especially resilient and thus a good investment for charity. My point is to draw attention to the effect of the war on reshaping elite philanthropy for children.

The page is good indication of the rest of the work as a whole in terms of analyzing transnational organizations and political forces that shaped child welfare. The book spans the period from the 1920s to the 1950s. The chapter described above is but one of two chapters on the wartime period because it was a significant turning point with ramifications for postwar reconstruction. Despite the ultimate breakdown of significant Allied partnerships with the onset of the Cold War, Raising China’s Revolutionaries argues for the endurance of some of the social relationships and symbolic meanings of childhood, such as the conferral of national significance onto children.
Learn more about Raising China's Revolutionaries at the Columbia University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue