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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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Literary and Documentary Accounts of the Great Famine

Literary and Documentary Accounts of the Great Famine

Challenging the Political System and the Social Hierarchies of Memory

(p.115) 6 Literary and Documentary Accounts of the Great Famine
Popular Memories of the Mao Era
Sebastian Veg, Sebastian Veg
Hong Kong University Press

Literary publications have long been a useful channel for intellectuals to voice critiques of the Mao era. This chapter examines three works of investigation, reportage and fiction published in the 2000s, to argue that counter-hegemonic narratives are gaining wider public circulation in China, and have contributed to questioning the official account, according to which elites and intellectuals were the main victims of Mao’s state. Yang Xianhui’s Chronicles of Jiabiangou documents the persecution of ordinary “rightists” in the provinces, Yang Jisheng’s Tombstone links the famine to the nature of the PRC regime, and Yan Lianke’s Four Books pinpoints the complicity of intellectuals with state policies. They have to some extent opened a space for further public debate on early PRC history.

Keywords:   Literature, Reportage, Great Famine, Subaltern history, Public sphere

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