On the book
A Decade of Upheaval chronicles the surprising and dramatic political conflicts of a rural Chinese county over the course of the Cultural Revolution. Drawing on an unprecedented range of sources—including work diaries, interviews, internal party documents, and military directives—Dong Guoqiang and Andrew Walder uncover a previously unimagined level of strife in the countryside that began with the Red Guard Movement in 1966 and continued unabated until the death of Mao Zedong in 1976.
Showing how the upheavals of the Cultural Revolution were not limited to urban areas, but reached far into isolated rural regions, Dong and Walder reveal that the intervention of military forces in 1967 encouraged factional divisions in Feng County because different branches of China’s armed forces took various sides in local disputes. The authors also lay bare how the fortunes of local political groups were closely tethered to unpredictable shifts in the decisions of government authorities in Beijing. Eventually, a backlash against suppression and victimization grew in the early 1970s and resulted in active protests, which presaged the settling of scores against radical Maoism.
A meticulous look at how one overlooked region experienced the Cultural Revolution, A Decade of Upheaval illuminates the all-encompassing nature of one of the most unstable periods in modern Chinese history.
Moderator: Sun Peidong (EURICS fellow and Michael J. Zak Associate Professor of History for China and Asia-Pacific Studies at Cornell University, USA).
Andrew G. Walder (co-author of the book and Denise O’Leary and Kent Thiry Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, USA);
Dong Guoqiang (co-author of the book and Professor of history at Fudan University, Shanghai, China);
Patricia Thornton (Associate Professor of Chinese Politics, University of Oxford, UK);
Yiching Wu (Professor of East Asian studies, history, and anthropology, University of Toronto, Canada);
Daniel Leese (Professor of Sinology at the University of Freiburg, Germany).
Closing Remarks: Barbara Mittler (Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies at the Center for Asian and Transcultural Studies, CATS, University of Heidelberg, Germany).
SPEAKERS’ PERSONAL BIOS:
Dong Guoqiang is professor of history at Fudan University in Shanghai. Before transferring to Fudan in 2015, he had been teaching modern Chinese history at Nanjing University for more than three decades. He is author of Qinli wenge: shisi wei nanjing daxue shisheng koushulishi (Ordeal in the Cultural Revolution: the oral history of fourteen teachers and students from Nanjing University) and Nanjing tongs: gongheguo juan (General history of Nanjing: the volume of PRC).
Daniel Leese is professor of Sinology at the University of Freiburg, Germany. His most recent books include Mao’s long shadow. How China deals with the past (in German: C.H. Beck 2020) and Victims, Perpetrators, and the Role of Law in Mao’s China, with Puck Engman, De Gruyter 2018.
Barbara Mittler holds a Chair in Chinese Studies at the University of Heidelberg were she co-founded Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS). Her research focuses on cultural production in (greater) China covering a range of topics from music, print media to visuality and cultural revolutions in China’s long modernity. Among her most recent publications are A Continuous Revolution: Making Sense of Cultural Revolution Culture, Harvard University Press, 2012, and a co-authored monograph with historian Thomas Maissen entitled Why China did not have a Renaissance and why that matters—an interdisciplinary Dialogue, De Gruyter 2018. She is currently working on a book-length study on women’s magazines, Portrait(s) of a Trope: Making New Women and New Men in Chinese Women’s Magazines, 1898-2008, and a visual biography of Mao, Reading Mao: The Making of a Global Icon while engaging in collaborative project with Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke) on representations of Gandhi and Mao as well as a monograph on Chinese Musicians on the Global Stage.
Peidong Sun (Ph.D. of Sociology, Sciences Po, Ph.D. of Law, Sun Yat-Sen University) is Michael J. Zak Associate Professor of History for China and Asia-Pacific Studies at Cornell University. She is currently a EURICS fellow. Much of her research has centered on the history and contemporary implications of Chinese everyday life. After publishing her first book Who Will Marry My Daughter: Parental Match-making Corner in Shanghai’s People’s Square and the second one Fashion and Politics: Everyday Clothing in Guangdong Province during the Cultural Revolution, she is currently working on her third book entitled Underground Reading of the Sent-down Generation: History and Memory of the Cultural Revolution.
Patricia M. Thornton is an associate professor in the University of Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations, and a Fellow of Merton College. She is the author of numerous articles in scholarly journals, and is currently editing a special issue of The China Quarterly forthcoming this autumn to mark the CCP’s centenary. Her recent publications include (with Vivienne Shue), To Govern China: Evolving Practices of Power (Cambridge, 2017); (with Chris Berry and Sun Peidong) Red Shadows: Memories and Legacies of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (Cambridge, 2017); and Disciplining the State: Virtue, Violence and State-Making in Modern China (Harvard, 2007).
Andrew G. Walder is the Denise O’Leary and Kent Thiry Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. A political sociologist, he has long specialized on the study of contemporary Chinese society and political economy. He has previously taught at Columbia, Harvard, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His recent books include Fractured Rebellion: The Beijing Red Guard Movement (2009), China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed (2015), and Agents of Disorder: Inside China’s Cultural Revolution (2019), all with Harvard University Press.
Yiching Wu teaches East Asian Studies and modern Chinese history at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the history, society and politics of Mao’s China (1949-1976), in particular history of the Cultural Revolution era (1966-1976). His main scholarly interests include historical anthropology, popular social and political movement, modern Chinese history, Chinese socialism and transition to postsocialism, and the politics of historical knowledge. He is the author of The Cultural Revolution at the Margins: Chinese Socialism in Crisis (Harvard University Press, 2014), which won the President’s Book Award from the Social Science History Association (USA) and was also shortlisted for the Wallace K. Ferguson Book Prize (for “the outstanding scholarly book in a field of history other than Canadian history”) from the Canadian Historical Association. He is currently working on a monograph that investigates and reconsiders the Cultural Revolution’s tumultuous opening phase and the tortuous path that led up to it, tentatively titled The Slippery Slope: The Coming of Mao’s Last Revolution.