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Revolution, War, and Villages: A Case Study on Villages of Licheng County, Shanxi Province during the War of Resistance Against Japan

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This paper focuses on several villages of Licheng county in the southeastern part of Shanxi province, probing into how the war and the revolution affected village society in North China. The primary concern of most existing studies on the Chinese Revolution has been to examine how the Communist Party of China (CPC) mobilized peasants in a certain area, boosted their revolutionary consciousness, and ultimately led them to win the revolution, and to carry out this inquiry in the context of the orthodox history of the CPC, from top-down perspective. The paper focuses on the microscopic world of a village, and examine, from the bottom-up perspective and in the context of the history of the village itself, what the war and the revolution meant to the village, several factors that have remained rather inconspicuous begin to surface. The case studies of several villages in Licheng county shows that the revolution unfolded as an extension of various conflicts or rivalries that had existed for years within each village, or between different villages. One group of well-to-do people who had once monopolized public authority within a village fell from power, while a group of poorer peasants who had been dominated by the richer group joined the CPC and emerged as new power holders in the village. The motives that drove peasants to join the CPC were often far more complex and diverse than conventional theory would have us believe.


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