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Thu, Dec. 15th, 2005, 11:27 pm

I'm writing a paper on Chinese women's experiences in the 1940-50's Communist take over. I've found primary sources that are all positive about the changes made by the Communist party. The women who've written these sources all praise the liberation and freedom they received as a result of the changes made by the Communists. However, most of my secondary sources point out many negative effects of the Communist party. For example, even though the Land Reform promised land to women, many women still did not actually get to hold land in their name (so claims the secondary source.)

My question is this: Why can't I find primary sources that talk about the negative aspects for women during the Communist reforms? Do you know of any I could use? Or, is it possible that the women who had negative experiences would not have access to record their experiences? Perhaps they were the illiterate, etc,?

Thanks :)

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 09:59 am (UTC)

Most of the sources I think you will find will be in oral history projects. It depends where you are and what language you are looking to figure out how much you can find. I have researched nothing on modern China I'm afraid, I prefer Tang dynasty and before, but two books were discussed in my research methods class, one was Chinese Lives, the author has just written a second book, and the other is by Neil J. Diamant called "Revloutionizing the Family" he looks at primary Chinese sources no one had access to previously. The flaw with the book is that the number of sources he uses is rather limited and he doesn't explain why. But he took the perspective that it was a much more positive experience for women than any other historians had said.
One thing I think you need to be carefull is trusting the secoundary sources more than the primary. If the primary sources say that life was better then there may be something to that. I would look at the footnotes and sources of the secondary sources that are saying it's bad and find out what they are basing these conclusions on, as it has to be more than simply not liking the communists. I would just be careful of "source mineing" looking for the perspectives that only support your idea. It might make you paper more interesting to say, I originaly thought this, and the secoundary soures agreed with me, however what I found was this. There are so many people ready to disnounce communism, the idea that it's impossible to speak out against the regime so that's why there is only positive sources might not hold up to closer investigation.
But best of luck, sounds like a very interesting topic!

Fri, Dec. 16th, 2005 04:23 pm (UTC)

In looking at the footnotes, it seems most of the authors are simply quoting other historians or scholars, and not actually quoting primary sources. That's what sent me on this search. I was wondering where the western scholars got their info from? I would hope they weren't simply going on hear-say.

I was also thinking of going the route you suggest. I agree, it is important not to try and manipulate the sources to support ones ideas. We're after the truth!