Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 February 2019
Chapter 2 examines how informants, writers, and editors reconciled tensions in the party-state’s socialist, market reform, and nationalist discourses through reinterpreting the historical landscape of the northeast borderland. The northeast borderland's history of migration, colonialism, cross-border trade, and ethnic conflict provided a flexible tableau for reconciling aspects of post-Mao reform ideology. Drawing on entangled historical themes of competing states, colonialism, migration, and commerce, participants in the project integrated nationalist victimization narratives with celebrations of Chinese entrepreneurial achievement and commercial expansion that complemented and corroborated the Party’s political rehabilitation of persecuted elites. Wenshi ziliao writers and editors intervened in this potentially problematic colonial and extra-national past to redefine Party socialism in nationalist and regionalist terms of the northeast borderland’s becoming Chinese. This involved a collusion of informants with the editors and Party officials sponsoring the project, as former migrant entrepreneurs manipulated the flexible discursive landscape to weave together and make sense of their stories of personal life failures and successes. The northeast borderland as reappropriated past is tied to the story of the reconfiguration of the post-Mao state.