Making History from Everyday Life of Common People: The Oral History Studies in a Chinese Village
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Qinghua University, Beijing
Publication date: 2009-09-30
Polish Sociological Review 2009;167(3):399-414
Narratives of personal histories of “bitterness” told by peasants who refer to themselves as “suffering people” (shouku ren) occupy a significant place in oral accounts of rural life in China in the second half of the twentieth century. They constitute both an important academic resource and an independent field of knowledge production. The social dimensions of “suffering” establish an organic link between the everyday lives of ordinary people and broader social history, such that the deep roots of “suffering” can only be apprehended from the perspective of social structures and power relationships. Seeing the everyday practices of ordinary peasants as an integral part of “civilisation” links peasants’ life histories with the macro processes of social history. It gives the mundane, even trivial, experiences and accounts of peasants’ lives an extraordinary significance as organic components of the grand historical narrative.
The main part of this paper has been published (in Chinese) in She Hui Xue Yan Jiu (Sociological Studies) No. 1, 2008.
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