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Yichi Chen

Yichi Chen

Project Title

The History of Changsha During the Sino-Japanese War, 1938-1945.

Supervisors

Project description

The Sino-Japanese War 1937-1945, also known in China’s Anti-Japanese War of Resistance (Kangri Zhanzheng), is one of the most important events in modern China. Previously, Chinese and Western historians argued that the Chinese Nationalists (Guomindang) military was corrupt, incompetent, and incapable of mobilising Chinese people and society to undertake the war with Japan. This view has imprisoned our understandings to the Nationalist efforts in the war.

However, with more archives in China, Taiwan, and the US becoming available to access for the public, the role of the Nationalist government in that conflict had been refined and revised a lot by scholars. New Chinese historiography, emerged since the 1980s, reassessed the Nationalist role in the war with Japan by giving credits for sacrifices and efforts which the National Army had made to serve their country. This renewed scholarship in Chinese also shaped the research agenda of Western scholarship, but this has not covered all important topics relating to the war. Wartime history in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, remains an unstudied field, which English or International scholarship needs to deepen.

We know little about the city’s defence, wartime mobilisation, the Nationalist guerrilla warfare and its relationship with Chongqing where the Chinese central government located at that time. Some broader studies have explored the military and social history of Changsha, but without details. By examining the city’s military histories alongside a few social histories during the war, this project will reveal the Nationalist way of mobilising and ruling a population very close to the frontline of Changsha. A case study of Changsha can become a prominent element in the changing of the narrative of China’s war against Japan through a new understanding of the Nationalist military and the effects of the war on Chinese society during that time.

Qualifications

Master of History (Australian National University, 2016-2018)