Round Table on the book A Decade of Upheaval: The Cultural Revolution in Rural China
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).