Neil J. Diamant
Response to Upshur on
Neil J. Diamant, Embattled Glory: Veterans, Military
Families, and the Politics of Patriotism in China, 1949–2007.
Prof. Upshur does an
excellent job summarizing the arguments (which she does not critique).
However, on matters related to sources and methodology she introduces
criticisms that are either unfair or surprisingly ignorant of social
science methodology. Let me give several examples:
(1) She notes that I did
not consult Defense Ministry Archives or national level government
bureaus. As I point out in the Appendix about sources, these archives
are closed to foreign researchers and most all Chinese
researchers as well. This is not a fair critique.
(2) She criticizes me for
selection bias, pointing out that Beijing, Shanghai, their suburbs,
and Shandong Province are not representative of China. I agree that
Beijing and Shanghai are not typical, but Shandong is not an "outlier"
province at all. But more importantly, I chose these areas owing to
the likelihood of positive treatment of veterans based on
arguments in the secondary literature about (a) the significance of
nationalism, (b) a high level of political control, and (c) a legacy
of military recruitment. The logic, which I clearly explain, was that,
if veterans were not afforded positive treatment in these places, it
is highly unlikely that their treatment was better in areas with less
government control, a legacy of resistance to recruitment, and the
like. That is, I selected the areas on the basis of the hypothesis.
This is social science ABCs. I also note that I did my best to secure
access to archives in poorer areas, but was denied (probably because
veterans were not treated well at all, as confirmed by materials I did
(3) Prof. Upshur fails to
note that many of the documents that I found in these archives were
national level reports that included information on many other
provinces (Guangdong, Jiangxi, Fujian, Hainan, Henan, Shaanxi,
Jiangsu, etc.). I also used the entire People's Daily database
to cull reports from around the country.
(4) Prof. Upshur
complains that rather than focus on postwar Taiwan, which she thinks
is similar to the mainland, I compare China to other political
entities both large and small throughout history, including the Roman
Empire, the United States, and Russia. She considers many of these
comparisons either distracting or pointless, especially in the case of
small states. However, isn't comparative research intended to enhance
the external validity of an argument? If my argument focuses on the
"beneficial" impact of total war on the postwar status of veterans,
why does size of the participant country matter so much? The point was
to show China as an outlier because its wars were mainly border
conflicts. Ironically, Prof. Upshur would rather I compare the PRC to
Taiwan, a pretty small place! For her, size matters, until it doesn't.
Aside from this, I can easily point out many differences between the
PRC and Taiwan. For instance: the United States gave the latter
financial support (noted in the book), most all veterans there were
and remained bachelors, and the Nationalists allowed quasi lineage
organizations for veterans.
(5) Prof. Upshur does not
acknowledge that my book does include data on veterans on
Taiwan in many chapters (employment, identity, health, bureaucracy,
political activism). I culled these data from unpublished
dissertations in the United States and Taiwan, secondary sources in
Chinese, and archives. The book is not organized as "case studies" of
countries, but rather as a primary case of China with insights and
comparisons to many countries to point out where China was different
or similar. My book is probably the most rigorously comparative
research effort in the China field, a field often criticized as too
parochial in its lack of comparisons.
(6) Her one "content
critique" is about the Manchu employment. All I can say here is that I
relied on the best research available on the Manchu military (Pam
Crossley and Mark Elliot). My sources are properly cited.