The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China

Hardcover | May 17, 2016

byGuobin Yang

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Raised to be "flowers of the nation," the first generation born after the founding of the People's Republic of China was united in its political outlook and at first embraced the Cultural Revolution of 1966, but then split into warring factions. Investigating the causes of this fracture, Guobin Yang argues that Chinese youth engaged in an imaginary revolution from 1966 to 1968, enacting a political mythology that encouraged violence as a way to prove one's revolutionary credentials. This same competitive dynamic would later turn the Red Guard against the communist government.

Throughout the 1970s, the majority of Red Guard youth were sent to work in rural villages, where they developed an appreciation for the values of ordinary life. From this experience, an underground cultural movement was born. Rejecting idolatry, these relocated revolutionaries developed a new form of resistance that signaled a new era of enlightenment, culminating in the Democracy Wall movement of the late 1970s and the Tiananmen protest of 1989. Yang's final chapter on the politics of history and memory argues that contemporary memories of the Cultural Revolution are factionalized along these lines of political division, formed fifty years before.

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Raised to be "flowers of the nation," the first generation born after the founding of the People's Republic of China was united in its political outlook and at first embraced the Cultural Revolution of 1966, but then split into warring factions. Investigating the causes of this fracture, Guobin Yang argues that Chinese youth engaged i...

Guobin Yang is an associate professor of communication and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of the award-winning The Power of the Internet in China: Citizen Activism Online.

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Paperback|Mar 7 2017

$23.14 online$26.00list price(save 11%)
Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:May 17, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231149646

ISBN - 13:9780231149648

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Table of Contents

Notes on DataAcknowledgmentsIntroduction1. Violence in Chongqing2. Flowers of the Nation3. Theory and Dissent4. Ordinary Life5. Underground Culture6. New Enlightenment7. Factionalized MemoriesConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

A nuanced portrait of the Red Guard generation. [Yang's] own depth of understanding enables him to show that Red Guards were not all storm troopers or crazed youth. They were constantly subjected to propaganda, but also had the capacity to learn, to grow, and to change.... In reminding us of this, Yang has done a great service during the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution in May 1966.