Jin Xuefei’s poem and Charlene Wang’s anecdote show how the context in which we understand our past can shape how we understand ourselves today.
Cultural psychologists Hazel Rose Markus and Alana Conner studied different ways of being, or what they term the independent and interdependent selves. Markus and Conner looked at a range of environments, from class- room participation to ways of parenting, between students from Eastern and Western cultures. While there are important variations and distinct differences within these regions and cultures, Markus and Conner shared some general observations.
On the morning of December 13, 1937, four divisions of the Japanese army and two navy fleets on the Yangtze River invaded Nanjing. The capital city now became one of the largest cities under the Japanese Central China Area Army (CCAA). The prewar population of over one million had shrunk considerably by November as the Japanese army advanced. On the morning of the 13th approximately 500,000 Chinese still remained. These were largely the poor who had little alternative while those able to leave had either financial resources or a place to go west of Nanjing.
Japan’s efforts to build a modern nation considered both its history and adaptation of Western practices. This exposure to other nations paved the way for a new openness with the rest of the world and allowed for the emergence of a group of intellectuals who believed that adopting aspects of Western culture would only strengthen Japan. Kido Takayoshi (1833–1877), one delegate on the Iwakura Mission, wrote to his friend Sugiyama Takatoshi in 1873 and discussed the critical role of education in the United States.