“I'm in the Middle of a War, I'm in the Middle of a Life!”

Stacilee Ford

in Troubling American Women

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9789888083114
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882207639 | DOI:
“I'm in the Middle of a War, I'm in the Middle of a Life!”

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This chapter illustrates that women continue to search for usefulness in communities where they were often seen as outsiders, albeit with access to certain types of borrowed power and privilege. Emily Hahn, Gwen Dew, and Eleanor Wai Chun Thom are the focused narratives of this chapter. For all three, the pedagogical impulse was linked to declarations of individual independence as well as to what they learned in the process of their cross-cultural encounters. All three wrote of how war had changed them as well as those around them. Pre-World War II Hong Kong is described in the chapter. Both Hahn and Dew noted the importance of domestic rituals as symbols of normalcy during the war. In addition, both of them returned to the US and to significant fanfare as a result of their experiences in Hong Kong. Moreover, Thom visualizes an education that offers “more knowledge than mere home management and childcare in the traditional manner”. Each of these women embraced opportunities that were theirs as a result of being in Hong Kong at the beginning of the period of Japanese occupation.

Keywords: Emily Hahn; Gwen Dew; Eleanor Wai Chun Thom; World War II; national identity; China; Hong Kong; cross-cultural encounters

Chapter.  17800 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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