City Versus Countryside in Mao's China: Negotiating the Divide

City Versus Countryside in Mao's China: Negotiating the Divide

by Jeremy Brown


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The gap between those living in the city and those in the countryside remains one of China's most intractable problems. As this powerful work of grassroots history argues, the origins of China's rural-urban divide can be traced back to the Mao Zedong era. While Mao pledged to remove the gap between the city worker and the peasant, his revolutionary policies misfired and ended up provoking still greater discrepancies between town and country, usually to the disadvantage of villagers. Through archival sources, personal diaries, untapped government dossiers, and interviews with people from cities and villages in northern China, the book recounts their personal experiences, showing how they retaliated against the daily restrictions imposed on their activities while traversing between the city and the countryside. Vivid and harrowing accounts of forced and illicit migration, the staggering inequity of the Great Leap Famine, and political exile and deportation during the Cultural Revolution reveal how Chinese people fought back against policies that pitted city dwellers against villagers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107024045
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 06/18/2012
Pages: 268
Product dimensions: 6.22(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.59(d)

About the Author

Jeremy Brown is Assistant Professor of Modern Chinese History at Simon Fraser University. He is co-editor, with Paul G. Pickowicz, of Dilemmas of Victory: The Early Years of the People's Republic of China (2007) and has published articles in Late Imperial China and The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. The city leads the village: governing Tianjin in the early 1950s; 2. Eating, moving, and working; 3. Tianjin's great leap: urban survival, rural starvation; 4. The great downsizing of 1961–3; 5. The four cleanups and urban youth in Tianjin's hinterland; 6. Purifying the city: the deportation of political outcasts during the Cultural Revolution; 7. Neither urban nor rural: in-between spaces in the 1960s and 1970s; 8. Staging Xiaojinzhuang: the urban occupation of a model village, 1974–8; Epilogue.

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