Cultural Revolution Symposium


Art and Politics, Lived Experience, Legacies of Liberation”

On November 6–8, 2009

Set the Record Straight Co-Sponsored a Remarkable Symposium
at University of California, Berkeley

This symposium, the second of its kind (the first was held in New York in 2008), was a powerful and moving rebuke to the dominant and distorted narrative of the Cultural Revolution as “mass persecution and madness,” and opened up new space for contesting this narrative and reaching broader audiences. Set the Record Straight contributed to the report on the symposium in Revolution newspaper.

Want to know what revolutionary socialism was really like? From people who lived it—and loved it? Hear from youth who went to the countryside to work and learn from the peasants...artists who set out to create revolutionary art...women who struggled against feudal tradition...people who look back at this period as some of the best years of their lives. And learn from scholars whose work brings to life a crucial and vital legacy of liberation.

Watch the video documentation of the panels:

Panel 1

Art and Politics in the Cultural Revolution

Bai Di, Director of Chinese and Asian Studies, Drew University,
Ban Wang, Lincoln Cushing (see biographies, below)
Length of this segment is 99 minutes.

Panel 1: Question and Answer

Panel 2

International Impact and Historical
Significance of the Cultural Revolution

Dongping Han, Raymond Lotta, Ann Tompkins, Robert Weil
(see biographies, below) It may take a minute before video starts;
please be patient. Length of this segment is 2 hours, 7 minutes.

Panel 2: Question and Answer

Length of this segment is 37 minutes.

Book Event

The Unknown Cultural Revolution:
Life and Change in a Chinese Village

with author Dongping Han

The Unknown Cultural Revolution challenges the established narrative of China’s Cultural Revolution, which assumes that this period of great social upheaval led to economic disaster, the persecution of intellectuals, and senseless violence. Dongping Han offers a powerful account of the dramatic improvements in the living conditions, infrastructure, and agricultural practices of China’s rural population that emerged in this period. Drawing on extensive local interviews and records in rural Jimo County, in Shandong Province, Han shows that the Cultural Revolution helped overthrow local hierarchies, establish participatory democracy and economic planning in the communes, and expand education and public services, especially for the elderly. Han lucidly illustrates how these changes fostered dramatic economic development in rural China.  —from the publishers blurb

Book Event: Question and Answer

Watch the CSpan-Book TV video of this book event

Panelist Biographies:

Lincoln Cushing—Historian and archivist of social and political graphics; co-author Chinese Posters: Art from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Bai Di—Director of Chinese and Asian Studies, Drew University; co-editor of Some of Us: Chinese Women Growing Up During the Mao Era

Dongping Han—Professor of History, Warren Wilson College; author of The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village; farmer and manager of a collective village factory during the Cultural Revolution

Raymond Lotta—Set the Record Straight project; Maoist political economist; writer for Revolution newspaper; author of America in Decline; editor Maoist Economics and the Revolutionary Road to Communism

Ann Tompkins—lived and worked in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution; co-author Chinese Posters: Art from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution

Ban Wang—Professor of Chinese Literature and Culture, Stanford University; author of Illuminations from the Past: Trauma, Memory, and History in Modern China (Cultural Memory in the Present)

Robert Weil—Senior Fellow at the Oakland Institute; author of Red Cat, White Cat: China and the Contradictions of “Market Socialism”

Media Coverage:

KPFA San Francisco radio show “Guns and Butter” audio of book event with Dongping Han here.

KPFK Los Angeles radio show “The Michael Slate Show” interview with panelist Bai Di here.

China’s Cultural Revolution a Human Disaster? Not According to Symposium Participants: Reader Commentary in The Berkeley Daily Planet, 11/12/2009

Back to China’s Cultural Revolution