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

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Maoism at the Grassroots: Everyday Life in China’s Era of High Socialism
Edited by Jeremy Brown and Matthew D. Johnson
Harvard University Press, 2015
480 pp.
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A new generation of Chinese and Western scholars is enriching the history of Mao Zedong’s China with material from discarded personnel files, diaries, and unpublished manuscripts purchased from paper recyclers, as well as from recently opened local archives. Their view from below challenges the clichéd images of regimented masses fanatically loyal to the revolution. In reality, Chinese society under Mao was turbulent in many of the same ways it is today. The most interesting chapters in this volume describe young people trying but failing to internalize official ideology, local party cadres ignoring orders to ban community rituals, and millenarian religious sects and ethnic uprisings boiling under the surface of Maoist homogeneity. But these new insights do not contradict the established view that Mao’s regime exercised a terrifying degree of surveillance and control.

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