Phase 1: Posing Real Questions

Updated 7 months 2 weeks ago

In Phase 0, I found a vague direction of the inquiry project I will be researching, which is the local history of Xizhou. I want to investigate how nationwide events such as the Cultural Revolution impacted a small town like Xizhou. 

In recent years, as my interest in reading grew, I developed a fascination for Chinese Literature. Contemporary Chinese Literature is written with what authors call "The Common Tongue", meaning that their writing style is a combination of art and down-to-earth language because their targeted audience is the public. Many of the greatest Contemporary Chinese Literature were written about the impact of large events like the Cultural Revolution on small-town citizens, yet ultimately, a veil between reality and literature had to exist. Words can dampen and emphasize events, the melancholy or joyfulness of scenes. No matter the art form: non-fiction, painting, movies, TV shows, novels, there will always be a certain distance to the truth of the matter. Which is why I want to learn about how nationwide events such as the Cultural Revolution impacted Xizhou.

Amongst the many nationwide events in Chinese history, the most impactful one within the past century was the Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution was launched by China's Communist leader Mao Zedong in 1966, intended to reassert his authority over the Chinese government. He believed the current Communist leaders were taking the party in a wrong direction; he urged youths to purge such "impurity" and bring about a better China. However, this led to the deaths and famines and a mania of propaganda that lasted for many years until it finally ended in 1976. Even in the current political climate, the Chinese government still banned many contents related to this revolution.

I am sure such events caused traumas in the hearts of many elders in Xizhou even now, however, I believe there were also many good memories. This led me to think of a new approach to this project: collecting stories; stories of romance, battles, history, and history during these nationwide events. For example, not just asking how the Cultural Revolution impacted Xizhou as a general question, but more centered on people's personal ties to it. This way, people might have more enthusiasm to talk about it (which can help me bring out some more difficult questions later on), and these topics will also be things they will most likely know more about. I will keep my options open, not necessarily just focused on the Cultural Revolution, but just following my main idea, of figuring out how nationwide events impacted Xizhou. 

Ten Major Questions

Below are ten questions that will guide my research about the topic. The questions are in normal font and the possible answers are in italics. The questions are not all going to be centered around my Inquiry project, some are more general about Xizhou. Questions 1-4 are about the general activities of Xizhou citizens, this can help me understand the daily life of Xizhou citizens, which will provide me a good outline of what the daily lives of Xizhou citizens are like. Questions 5-10 are about Xizhou citizens' lives at that time, which will help me understand the bigger picture from learning about the small and individual pictures of Xizhou citizens' childhood which they might have a lot to tell me about. I will continue with more research for these questions in Phase 3

Daily Life

1. What are the general differences in activities for different age groups and genders? Has it changed from the previous generation?
Older citizens might participate in slower activities such as chess or taking a walk, while children might participate in more active activities such as sports, now with the introduction of technology, the children might also game, whereas previous generations would not have had the access to such technologies. Regarding differences in activities for different genders, since Xizhou is a more female society, so females might use more of their time on work while men take care of the household. 

2. Are the activities of Xizhou citizens more communal or more individual-centered?
I believe Xizhou is quite a tight community, so as a result of that, the activities might be more communal, however, since work in modern times became more compartmentalized, the community might be affected by that and become more separated, causing there to be more individual activities. 

3. What historical event impacted Xizhou (as a town) the most?
I believe it might be the Great Leap Foward because, within these forced "communities", many disagreements and fallout in the communal relationship must have occurred, which might impact family relationships even till this day. On the other hand, the Great Leap Foward probably also impacted the local economy. 

4. What are some of the impacts of major changes in China (e.g. the Cultural Revolution) on Xizhou?
Xizhou, in my opinion, is quite a closed-gate community, therefore, such large, nation-wide revolutions would have plied open such closed-gates, and expose Xizhou to the entirety of Chinese society, opening up new connections towards modern China.

Childhood 

5. What were Xizhou citizens' lives like during their teenage years (12-18)?
In rural parts of China, I believe it would be more common to see children's lives being focused more on helping the family than study. 

6. What did people talk most about during the Xizhou citizens' teenage years (12-18)?
Although the adults might be protective and block a lot of the information from the children, I believe there had still been many conversations amongst the children, perhaps about the latest technologies and games, or even discuss politics. 

7. What did family life look like during the Xizhou citizens' teenage years (12-18)?
Before a child's teenage years, parents are more likely to nurture than force ideas upon the child, because they were most likely not going to understand. However, during the teenage years, parents are more likely to trust their children with more responsibilities such as helping with the family business and let them know more truths about the world. 

8. Do many Xizhou citizens leave to bigger cities? If so, for what reasons? If no, what are some of the restraints preventing them to do so?
I don't think many Xizhou citizens leaves Xizhou, for the ones who do, it might be for better education or a better paying job. The restraints preventing mass amounts of people to go to larger cities might include economic reasons or family reasons. 

9. What were some of the different figures Xizhou citizens admired at different stages of their lives? Why did they admire them, and why did the people they admire change (if it did)? 
Due to the heavy political movements at the time, I believe the figures that Xizhou citizens admire might also be centered around the leading people of such political changes, such as Mao Ze Dong, or Deng Xiao Ping. And with perspectives on politics changing all the time, the people they admire might also change. 

10. What kind of things were in vogue to have or do when they were teenagers(12-18)?
Some kinds of clothing might have been very popular, also new technologies, games, and books.

However, my current questions are still quite hollow. For my project to be more successful, more research needs to be done on Xizhou families and Xizhou history. 

I will now move on to Phase 2 to find helpful sources.

I'm fourteen years old and was born in America, Minnesota. However, my family moved to Shanghai when I was 1 year old, after that, I have lived in Tianjin for a while, then moved back to Shanghai. The days at Xizhou had been very memorable and taught me a lot, I will certainly return to visit at times in the near future.