Yuhang Zhu

PhD Candidate, Department of History, Graduate School of Arts & Science

Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (September 13 - December 17):

This project focuses on the politics of family and domesticity in China in the immediate aftermath of the War of Resistance Against Japan, 1945-1949. It explores the practical and theoretical problem of “homecoming,” that is, how the experiences of the people, who had been displaced by war and were trying to return home after the war, constituted a refocusing of the politics of the family on domestic life. During the eight-year long total war between China and Japan, an unprecedented number of men and women were forced to leave their homes in coastal China and to move inland as refugees. Family members were scattered and separated from each other across the battlefronts, with their properties, bodies and spirits subject to violence and dispossession. The post-1945 era witnessed not only the Chinese people's joy at the national victory, but also the bittersweetness of homecoming engendered by the end of the war and the humanitarian redirection of the politics of family from national salvation to the restoration of a stable domestic life. Their wartime experiences, the scarcity of transportation and economic resources, the state's policy of postwar takeover and resettlement, and the Civil War following the end of WWII all conditioned people’s homecoming journeys.

During the GRI program in Fall 2021, Yuhang Zhu will, first of all, continue visiting archives and libraries in and around Shanghai, to set the material, political and policy stages for people's homecoming journeys at that time. A huge amount of mass media materials, including newspapers, journals and films, is housed in Shanghai, and Zhu will retrieve not only people's lived experiences but also the ideals of family life that people, mainly urban middle class and intellectuals, endeavored to articulate. Apart from salvaging sources, he will also visit local scholars, especially Professor Zhang Letian at Fudan University who has built an archive on everyday life in China from 1940s to 1960s, for suggestions on and access to other sources. Through the lens of the problem of family and domestic life, this project aims at renewing the understanding of the history of post-WWII China, where not only the Nationalists and the Communists engaged in the brutal Civil War, but also ordinary people endeavored to sustain and survive, and to envision a desired life and future after years of displacement and war against invasion.

Last Name
Fellows Type
GRI Fellowship
GRI Fellows semester
Fall 2021