"Everydays" (A Progression Inspired by Jerome Kern)

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Shortly before Christmas 2012, in a Beijing flea market and at a price, I was offered a cache of more than two thousand moth-eaten surveillance (“stake-out”) logs from the early 1950s emanating with the Bureau of Public Security in the city of Harbin, Manchuria. Unable to figure out what to do with them, I turned the offer down. Only later did it dawn on the historian in me that the logs just might have been perfect as points of departure for a paper discussing ways of reconstructing the timelines and chronologies – and hopefully a fair deal more – of what everyday life had been like for two distinct urban categories of people in the early People’s Republic of China: the first, obviously, the targets of the surveillance themselves, but also the police officers tracing and recording their every movement. Bitterly regretting not having shelled out the money that my Manchurian Moose the Mooche had wanted and fearing that the cache, meanwhile, had been picked up by a more quick-witted garbologist, I hurriedly set out trying to re-establish contact. In the end, I was finally able to ascertain that nobody else had taken an interest in the logs during the holidays: in fact, the asking price for them had even gone down by a third! I closed the deal. An impressive dusty pile of brittle yellow 7 by 5 inch slips of paper now sits on my desk and I have begun the tactile/palaeographic process of distilling from it an academic paper. One of the surveillance targets, it turns out, is a Korean catholic priest by the name of Kim Shin Yeong in whose movements the police are particularly interested. His comings and goings and the activities of his international circle of friends are monitored every day (except when it rains and at night!) between 1949 and 1953. He is ultimately arrested on suspicion of having run a ring of ”stay-behind” spies for the US imperialists, but the stake-out logs really provide little evidence of hostile acts. Instead, they document no end of mundane and ordinary activities: the target comes out, eats some watermelon, chats with neighbours, joins friends for dinner, returns by rickshaw, goes inside together with his wife, turns out the lights… Meanwhile, it is the officers observing him who are leading travesties of free lives: bored and frustrated to death, tied down from morning until late, and doing nothing for fear of missing something.
Antal sidor11
StatusUnpublished - 2013
Evenemang2013 WCU Alltagsgeschichte Transnational Workshop: Politics of Memory, Practices of Remembrance - Hanyang University, Seoul
Varaktighet: 2013 apr. 19 → …


Konferens2013 WCU Alltagsgeschichte Transnational Workshop: Politics of Memory, Practices of Remembrance
Period2013/04/19 → …

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Historia och arkeologi


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