Book Launch - The Cultural Revolution at the Margins: Chinese Socialism in Crisis

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Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Friday, January 23, 20152:00PM - 4:00PM208N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
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Mao Zedong envisioned a great struggle to “wreak havoc under the heaven” when he launched the Cultural Revolution in 1966. But as radicalized Chinese youth rose up against Party officials, events quickly slipped from the government’s grasp, and rebellion took on a life of its own. The Cultural Revolution at the Margins: Chinese Socialism in Crisis recaptures these formative moments from the perspective of the disenfranchised and disobedient rebels Mao unleashed and later abandoned. Although he had only a tenuous relationship with the Red Guard students and workers, it was these young rebels who advanced the Cultural Revolution’s more radical possibilities. They act for themselves, but at the same time transgressed Maoism by critically reflecting on broader issues concerning Chinese socialism. However, as China’s state machinery broke down and her institutional foundations threatened, Mao resolved to suppress the crisis. Leaving out in the cold the very activists who had taken its transformative promise seriously, the Cultural Revolution devoured its children and exhausted its political energy. Overall, the mass demobilizations of 1968–9, as the book shows, were the starting point of a series of crisis-coping maneuvers to contain and neutralize dissent, producing immense changes in Chinese society a decade later.

Yiching Wu is Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Studies and the Asian Institute at the University of Toronto. An anthropologist trained at the University of Chicago, his research focuses on the history, society, and politics of Mao’s China, in particular during the Cultural Revolution.


Rachel Ostep


Timothy Cheek, Discussant
Professor and Director, Centre for Chinese Research, University of British Columbia

Andre Schmid, Discussant
Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto

Rebecca Karl, Discussant
Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, History, Duke University

Yiching Wu, Author
Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of East Asian Studies and the Asian Institute, University of Toronto

Main Sponsor

Asian Institute

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