East Asian Studies 197. China's Cultural Revolution

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photo of Daniel Koss

Dr. Daniel Koss

This course introduces a cataclysmic movement that brought the People’s Republic of China to the brink of anarchy: The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The first part looks at historical precursors, including rebellion in the imperial era, political movements in the Republican Era, Communist campaigns and purges, as well as the Great Leap Forward famine that cost tens of millions of lives. Paying equal attention to elite politics at Mao Zedong’s “court” and the lived experiences of ordinary citizens, the second part focuses on the evolution of the turmoil, once Mao had called for “bombarding the headquarters” of his own party state, discussing the “Gang of Four,” the “attempted coup” by Lin Biao, the Red Guards and the worker rebels in Shanghai, local power seizures and factional warfare, military crackdowns, and the return to order. The third part begins with the reception of the movement abroad, and focuses on its afterlives, including the quasi- pluralist lessons drawn in the immediate aftermath, the role of CR legacies in decisions such as the violent crackdown on the Tiananmen protesters in 1989, and memory politics under Xi Jinping. No language requirement.

Course Website