Published online by Cambridge University Press: 19 August 2009
This essay considers the meanings of Sino-Japanese collaboration before the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–45) through the personal diary of one collaborator, Bai Jianwu (1886–1937). Rather than debate the veracity of the diary narrative, the author considers the diary as a “political performance”—as an assembly of formulaic elements borrowed from contemporary discourse, historical example, and generic conventions that was designed to locate collaboration within a range of conceivable responses to China's predicament. While the emerging narratives of national resistance typically portrayed collaboration as an unthinkable transgression, the collaboration narrative of the diary, shifting and often ambivalent, illuminates the terms on which Bai was prepared to argue that collaboration with the Japanese was an acceptable choice, and the place that he allowed collaboration in the story of his life.
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