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Kulturrevolution
Aug 28th, 2016 by Gao

Grassroots Factionalism in China’s Cultural Revolution: Rethinking the Paradigm (H-PRC)

Discussants: Felix Wemheuer (University of Cologne), Andrew Walder (Stanford University), Jonathan Unger (Australian National University), Joel Andreas (Johns Hopkins University), Yiching Wu (University of Toronto)
Notes from a roundtable at the Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies, Seattle March 2016
In the 1980s, Western scholars developed a powerful paradigm to explain mass political factionalism in Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966-69) in rational terms, rather than portraying the movement as mere “madness.” They explained mass factionalism as the escalation of latent conflicts between groups from different social backgrounds and with different political interests in the period before the Cultural Revolution. This influential paradigm has since been challenged from several angles, most prominently by Andrew Walder in his book Fractured Rebellion: The Beijing Red Guard Movement (Harvard University Press, 2009). Walder and several other scholars have argued that the roles of social background and ideological differences in explaining factional divisions have been exaggerated, and that contingent events and instrumental interests were far more important. The aim of this discussion is to bring new light to this debate. How was grassroots factionalism linked to conflicts at higher levels? How did the social and political backgrounds of participants impact factional participation? Did different interpretations of Maoist ideology matter? Were ordinary participants fighting mainly to avoid the consequences of defeat?

Paul Clark: What is cultural about the Cultural Revolution? Creativity Amid Destruction (SupChina)

Paul Clark discusses the films, plays, operas, ballets, architecture and other creative works in China during the Cultural Revolution.

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