September 10, 2010

Dongpin Han, The Unkown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village (Monthly Review, 2008).

Mobo Gao, The Battle for China's Past: Mao & the Cultural Revolution (Pluto, 2008).

In both these books, the authors argue that the rural poor's lives were greatly improved during the Cultural Revolution and that a wholesale re-evaluation of that time period is necessary. But what I think makes this new trend in Chinese historical thought interesting is that it comes in an era when the current economic and governmental structure have allowed the wealth gap to go beyond the recognized warning levels on the Gini Coefficient scale. I expect a lot more work in this vein, as direct criticism of Beijing's current policies may result in punishment; whereas, pointing out how many of the Cultural Revolution's policies focused directly, however flawed, on uplifting the rural poor and actually attained some of those goals (education) isn't really going to ruffle too many feathers.



Blogger rodney k said...

Hi David,

Am hearing something like this on our side of the big pond, too--NPR just had their Shanghai correspondent on the radio yesterday, back after several years absent, commenting on the great American-scale consumer wealth in the cities and contrasting that with the Party's less stellar record in minding the countryside. Maybe talk about modern China's "trending" that way.


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