Member book, Cliver, Red Silk: Class, Gender, and Revolution in China's Yangzi Delta Silk Industry

Robert Cliver's picture

Dear Colleagues, 

I am writing to announce the publication of my new book, Robert Cliver, Red Silk: Class, Gender, and Revolution in China's Yangzi Delta Silk Industry (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2020) available July 14, 2020. 450 pages. ISBN 9780674244467 (cloth) 

The book is a history of China’s Yangzi Delta silk industry during the wars, crises, and revolutions of the mid-twentieth century. Based on extensive research in Chinese archives and focused on the 1950s, Red Silk compares two very different groups of silk workers and their experiences in the revolution. Male silk weavers in Shanghai factories enjoyed close ties to the Communist party-state and benefited greatly from socialist policies after 1949. In contrast, workers in silk thread mills, or filatures, were mostly young women who lacked powerful organizations or ties to the revolutionary regime. For many filature workers, working conditions changed little after 1949 and politicized production campaigns added a new burden within the brutal and oppressive factory regime in place since the nineteenth century.

Both groups of workers and their employers had to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. Their actions—protests, petitions, bribery, tax evasion—compelled the party-state to adjust its policies, producing new challenges. The results, though initially positive for many, were ultimately disastrous. By the end of the 1950s, there was widespread conflict and deprivation among silk workers and, despite its impressive recovery under Communist rule, the industry faced a crisis worse than war and revolution. 

Table of Contents: 

Introduction: Class and Gender in the Chinese Revolution

1          The Development of China’s Modern Silk Industry

2          Yangzi Delta Silk Workers in War and Revolution

3          New Democracy and Communist Revolution

4          “Weavers of Revolution”: From Conflict to Cooperation in the Shanghai Silk Weaving Industry

5          Creating a Campaign Society: Mass Mobilization during the Korean War

6          “Women of the Silk”: Class, Gender, and the State in the Wuxi Filatures

7          The Socialist Transformation of the Yangzi Delta Silk Industry

Conclusion: The Chinese Revolution in the Yangzi Delta Silk Factories 





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