Maoism at the Grassroots: Everyday Life in China's Era of High Socialism

Maoism at the Grassroots: Everyday Life in China's Era of High Socialism


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The Maoist state's dominance over Chinese society, achieved through such watersheds as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, is well known. Maoism at the Grassroots reexamines this period of transformation and upheaval from a new perspective, one that challenges the standard state-centered view. Bringing together scholars from China, Europe, North America, and Taiwan, this volume marshals new research to reveal a stunning diversity of individual viewpoints and local experiences during China's years of high socialism.

Focusing on the period from the mid-1950s to 1980, the authors provide insights into the everyday lives of citizens across social strata, ethnicities, and regions. They explore how ordinary men and women risked persecution and imprisonment in order to assert personal beliefs and identities. Many displayed a shrewd knack for negotiating the maze-like power structures of everyday Maoism, appropriating regime ideology in their daily lives while finding ways to express discontent and challenge the state's pervasive control.

Heterogeneity, limited pluralism, and tensions between official and popular culture were persistent features of Maoism at the grassroots. Men had gay relationships in factory dormitories, teenagers penned searing complaints in diaries, mentally ill individuals cursed Mao, farmers formed secret societies and worshipped forbidden spirits. These diverse undercurrents were as representative of ordinary people's lives as the ideals promulgated in state propaganda.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674287204
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 10/13/2015
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Jeremy Brown is Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University.

Matthew D. Johnson is Assistant Professor of History and Chair of East Asian Studies at Grinnell College.

Jacob Eyferth is Associate Professor of Modern Chinese History in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, the Department of History, and the College, University of Chicago.

Michael Schoenhals is Professor of Chinese at Chinese Lund University, Sweden.

Table of Contents

Introduction Jeremy Brown Matthew D. Johnson 1

Part I Crimes, Labels, and Punishment

1 How a "Bad Element" Was Made: The Discovery, Accusation, and Punishment of Zang Qiren Yang Kuisong 19

2 Moving Targets: Changing Class Labels in Rural Hebei and Henan, 1960-1979 Jeremy Brown 51

3 An Overt Conspiracy: Creating Rightists in Rural Henan, 1957-1958 Cao Shuji 77

4 Revising Political Verdicts in Post-Mao China: The Case of Beijing's Fengtai District Daniel Leese 102

Part II Mobilization

5 Liberation from the Loom? Rural Women, Textile Work, and Revolution in North China Jacob Eyferth 131

6 Youth and the "Great Revolutionary Movement" of Scientific Experiment in 1960S-1970S Rural China Sigrid Schmalzer 154

7 Adrift in Tianjin, 1976: A Diary of Natural Disaster, Everyday Urban Life, and Exile to the Countryside Sha Qingqing Jeremy Brown 179

Part III Culture and Communication

8 Beneath the Propaganda State: Official and Unofficial Cultural Landscapes in Shanghai, 1949-1965 Matthew D. Johnson 199

9 China's "Great Proletarian Information Revolution" of 1966-1967 Michael Schoenhals 230

10 The Dilemma of Implementation: The State and Religion in the People's Republic of China, 1949-1990 Xiaoxuan Wang 259

Part IV Discontent

11 Radical Agricultural Collectivization and Ethnic Rebellion: The Communist Encounter with a "New Emperor" in Guizhou's Mashan Region, 1956 Wang Haiguang 281

12 Caught between Opposing Han Chauvinism and Opposing Local Nationalism: The Drift toward Ethnic Antagonism in Xinjiang Society, 1952-1963 Zhe Wu 306

13 Redemptive Religious Societies and the Communist State, 1949 to the 1980s S. A. Smith 340

Epilogue: Mao's China-Putting Politics in Perspective Vivienne Shue 365

Notes 381

Contributors 453

Acknowledgments 455

Index 457

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