Chris Tzu Hsien Yuan
Chris Tzu Hsien Yuan

Project Title: Nationless and Homeless: A Soldier’s Everyday Life of Modern China, 1926-2011

Principal Advisor: Associate Professor Chi-Kong Lai

Project Abstract: Heng-Siang YUAN (袁恒祥) joined the Chinese Nationalist armies during the Sino-Japanese War in 1941, when he was 14 years old. Four years later the Nationalist won; however, the communist armies were to become stronger and split China down the middle. During this time, he was ordered to join the Chinese civil war to fight the Communist armies. In the year 1949, the Communists triumphed and occupied mainland China. He followed the Nationalist armies in the retreat to Taiwan in the end.

Yuan passed away in 2011 when he was 86 years old. Family members found many documents, such as diaries and manuscripts, which were preserved during Yuan’s military service life. This research will re-explore and re-interpret the history of China during and after the war time from a soldier’s perspective. First, I am going to discuss how the ideology and national identity played a part in his everyday life.Second, I attempt to compare the similarities and differences of perspective between the general public and soldiers, and discuss issues of class in the war and in the military services. Eventually, I will focus on two issues: 1) How does Yuan’s cultural identity change after his retirement from the army? 2) What is Yuan’s everyday life like in civil society?

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