Rebellion and Repression in China, 1966-1971

Rebellion and Repression in China, 1966-1971

Talk by Andrew G. Walder, Stanford University

Thursday, February 20, 2014
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Bunche Hall 10383

In the first five years after the onset of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, one of the largest political upheavals of the 20th century paralyzed a powerfully centralized party state, leading to a harsh regime of military control. Despite a wave of post-Mao revelations in the 1980s, knowledge about the nationwide impact of this insurgency and its suppression remains selective and impressionistic, based primarily on scattered local accounts. A dataset drawn from historical narratives published in 2,213 county and city annals (99 percent of all local jurisdictions), permits us to map the temporal and geographic spread of a mass insurgency, its evolution through time, and the repression through which militarized state structures were rebuilt. Statistical models designed to compensate for sample selection bias yield estimates for deaths and political casualties from various causes. The vast majority of casualties were due to organized repression by authorities, not the actions of insurgents in the course of rebellion. Despite the large aggregate death toll, on a per capita basis the Cultural Revolution was considerably less intense than other well-known cases of politically-induced mortality.


Andrew G. Walder is the Denise O'Leary and Kent Thiry Professor at Stanford University, where he is also a senior fellow in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. He joined the Stanford faculty the fall of 1997, after holding previous faculty positions at Columbia, Harvard, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

A political sociologist, Walder has long specialized in the sources of inequality, conflict, stability, and change in communist regimes and their successor states. His current research focuses on Mao-era China, with a focus on the mass politics of the Cultural Revolution.

His recent publications include “Transitions from State Socialism: A Property Rights Perspective” in the Sociology of Economic Life, edited by Mark Granovetter and Richard Swedberg (Westview Press, 2011); Fractured Rebellion: The Beijing Red Guard Movement(Harvard University Press, 2009); the Chinese Cultural Revolution as History, edited with Joseph Esherick and Paul Pickowicz (Stanford University Press, 2006); "Ownership, Organization, and Income Inequality: Market Transition in Rural Vietnam" in the American Sociological Review (2008); "Ambiguity and Choice in Political Movements: The Origins of Beijing Red Guard Factionalism," in the American Journal of Sociology (2006); and "Political Sociology and Social Movements," in Annual Review of Sociology (2009). His next book, China Under Mao: Anatomy of a Revolution, will be published by Harvard University Press in 2015.

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Published: Friday, February 28, 2014