Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, About the Series, Other Works in the Series, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

...A book fifteen years in themakingmarks a longish phase in a life. Since this one is, in part, a book about memory, finishing it seems to require at least a brief backward glance from the author. World events, the domestic time of my household, and the daily rhythms of work time in my university have all changed across the past decade and a half. I can name and arrange temporalities of all kinds: rupture, accretion, progress, decline, crisis, milestone, routine...

Maps

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pp. xv-xvi

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Introduction

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pp. 1-12

...Chaofeng tells this story with great economy more than sixty years after the incident. As searing in its understatement as in its imagery, it opens out to an aftermath that the listener is left to imagine. Chaofeng does not linger over the details or comment on her own reaction when themoney caught fire. Nor does she speculate aboutwhat hermothermight have felt as the fruits of a month’s labor,money she had been able to earn only by giving away her third...

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1: Frames

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pp. 13-31

...In rural Shaanxi in the 1950s, gender was everywhere an important axis of difference, and it remained so even as the content of normative gendered behavior shifted. Yet gender itselfwas entangledwith specificities of locale andwith generational differences. Other themes, too, crosscut and sometimes confound the neat sorting of women into specified roles and orderly progress through time. This chapter frames many of the stories that follow with attention...

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2: No One Is Home

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pp. 32-64

...Xiuzhen’s future husband, an only child, lived thirty li [about ten miles] from her parents’ home in Beitun, Liquan County. Most young women did not marry so far away fromtheir parents, but both families were Christian. Years earlier the betrothal had been brokered by matchmaker Li, who spoke of how wonderful the Dong family was. But shortly before Xiuzhen moved to the home of her in-laws, her older brother went to the mountains to trade for grain and came back angry...

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3: Widow (or, the Virtue of Leadership)

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pp. 65-95

...The new village leadership and Communist Party cadres did not take long to figure out that Xiuzhen had leadership potential.When the new state collected its first round of grain tax, her organizing skills enabled the village to turn in somuch grain that the township government returned a portion of it to every household...

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4: Activist

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pp. 96-128

...After Liberation Gaixia became a land reform activist, and by the time she was eighteen she was the head of the township Women’s Federation. What she heard about the Party-state’s marriage policy fromthe land reformteamemboldened her to break off her own engagement...

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5: Farmer

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pp. 129-153

...Until 1954 Qiao Yindi had never left Village G. But at the age of twenty-two she joined her husband in Xinjiang, where he had been assigned to do statistical work for theHealth Bureau.The journey with her toddler daughter in the back of a truck was long and difficult, the three years spent among strangers lonely and disorienting. Yindi never stopped longing for Village G during her...

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6: Midwife

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pp. 154-181

...My husband was away from home, hiding from military conscription. My mother-in-law slept on the other side of the house, and I shared a room with my elder sister-in-law.There was no light at night. I was bleeding. I said, “What is happening?” Finally, I struggled to climb to the edge of the bed. By the second half of the night, I could not endure the contractions. I moaned and knelt on the ground. Inthemorning,my sister-in-lawsaid, “I heardyoumoanonce, andthenyoumade...

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7: Mother

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pp. 182-209

...The year before we interviewed Liu Dongmei, a high fever left her blind in one eye. Before her illness, she had been known in Village Z for the skill and artistry of her embroidery. Families bought her fine pillows to decorate themarriage beds of their daughters, and her navel-protecting baby bibswere popular with newmothers. Dongmei’s tales were full of intelligence and energy...

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8: Model

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pp. 210-235

...To become an agricultural labor model or a village leader, a man had to be good, even innovative, at what had always been man’s work. A woman labor model, in contrast, had to do something completely different fromwhat women had conventionally been recognized as doing, even while continuing to do most of what she had done before. Women labor models pioneered shifts in...

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9: Laborer

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pp. 236-266

...Campaign time and domestic time collided with unprecedented intensity during theGreat Leap Forward, briefly and memorably upending every aspect of rural life. The Great Leap, launched inMay 1958, was a massive national campaign aimed at overtaking the industrial output of Great Britain and catching up with theUnited States through intensive production campaigns...

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10: Narrator

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pp. 267-288

...Aging women narrate their childhood, youth, and middle years from the vantage point of the present. Their longevity, self-understanding, and economic vulnerability are shaped by gender, just as their laboring lives were during the collective period.They highlight what they feel to be their enduring virtues, their important achievements, and their most deeply harbored grievances...

Appendix: Interviews

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pp. 289-292

Notes

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pp. 293-400

Glossary

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pp. 401-410

References

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pp. 411-442

Index

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pp. 443-455

Production Notes

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pp. 456-456

Image Plates

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pp. 457-464