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Popular Memories of the Mao EraFrom Critical Debate to Reassessing History$
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Sebastian Veg

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9789888390762

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888390762.001.0001

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Writing about the Past, an Act of Resistance

Writing about the Past, an Act of Resistance

An Overview of Independent Journals and Publications about the Mao Era

(p.21) 2 Writing about the Past, an Act of Resistance
Popular Memories of the Mao Era
Jean-Philippe Béja, Sebastian Veg
Hong Kong University Press

Since taking power in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party has consistently tried to enforce a monopoly on the writing and interpretation of history. However, since 1998 individual initiatives have increased in the field of memory. Confronting official amnesia, victims of Maoist movements have decided to write their versions of history before it is too late. This chapter presents a typology of these endeavours. Annals of the Yellow Emperor (Yanhuang chunqiu), an official publication, enjoyed some freedom to publish dissenting historical accounts but was suppressed in 2016. With the rise of the internet, unofficial journals appeared that were often dedicated to a specific period: Tie Liu’s Small traces of the Past (Wangshi weihen) published accounts of victims of the Anti-Rightist movement for almost a decade before the editor was arrested; Wu Di’s Remembrance (Jiyi) founded by former Red Guards and rusticated youth circulates on line. The third type is the samizdat: targets of repression during Mao’s reign recount their experience in books that are published at their own expense and circulated privately. Most of these “entrepreneurs of memory” are convinced that restoring historical truth is a pre-requisite to China’s democratization. Since Xi Jinping came to power, they have suffered repression.

Keywords:   memory, history, resistance, pluralisation, democratisation

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