Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Xia on justice and nationalism in wartime China

Back in 2017, Yun Xia (Valparaiso University) published Down with Traitors: Justice and Nationalism in Wartime China with the University of Washington Press. From the publisher:
Throughout the War of Resistance against Japan (1931-1945), the Chinese Nationalist government punished collaborators with harsh measures, labeling the enemies from within hanjian (literally, "traitors to the Han Chinese"). Trials of hanjian gained momentum during the postwar years, escalating the power struggle between Nationalists and Communists. Yun Xia examines the leaders of collaborationist regimes, who were perceived as threats to national security and public order, and other subgroups of hanjian-including economic, cultural, female, and Taiwanese hanjian. Built on previously unexamined code, edicts, and government correspondence, as well as accusation letters, petitions, newspapers, and popular literature, Down with Traitors reveals how the hanjian were punished in both legal and extralegal ways and how the anti-hanjian campaigns captured the national crisis, political struggle, roaring nationalism, and social tension of China's eventful decades from the 1930s through the 1950s.
Praise for the book:

 "Yun Xia's perceptive study traces the legal definition and the political usages of the profoundly emotive word hanjian (traitor). She looks at the years of the Resistance War and shows the ways in which the designation was used as China's political world was increasingly polarized." -Diana Lary

"Deeply researched and intriguing. Yun Xia details the scope of the traitor trials, which dwarfed the war crime trials of the Japanese." -Barak Kushner

"Wartime collaboration breeds treason trials-but trials in turn create collaborators by defining and punishing them. This book, the first in English, reconstructs the tangled political and legal processes in China that singled out those charged with aiding the Japan during the war, and that went on to influence mass campaigns after 1949." -Timothy Brook

Further information is available here.