Masterminding the Public Sphere: The Cultural Revolution and Embodied Memories of the “Nine Polemics”

Termin: Dienstag, 09. Mai 2017
Uhrzeit: 11.00 Uhr
Ort: Raum 201, Institut für Sinologie, Akademiestraße 4-8, 69117 Heidelberg

Masterminded by Mao himself and drafted by the Chinese Communist Partiy’s top theorists from 1963 to 1964, the so-called “Nine Polemics” (jiu ping 九评) constitute an important ideological preparations for the launching of the Cultural Revolution. They were concerned with the necessity to fight “Soviet-style revisionism“ to prevent it from happening in China, the need to forestall “American strategies of peaceful evolution,” and urged the cultivation of China’s younger generation as “revolutionary successors.” As such, the “Nine Polemics” were profoundly influential on the Cultural Revolution generation. Their polemical style and powerful rhetorical flourishes would become an important model for Red Guard invectives as famous passages from the “Nine Polemics” were memorized and thus became rhetorical resources for debate in the Cultural Revolution.
Focusing on the auditory and visual powers of Maoism, this paper shows how the propaganda state made its inroads on the Chinese public sphere by use of the “Nine Polemics.” My analysis focuses on what aspects of the Nine Polemics are remembered and how they are remembered. One key finding is the crucial role of radio broadcasts. Based on previously untapped archival sources, as well as oral histories, this paper promises to shed light on how information control of the Chinese public sphere was importantly linked to the embodied memories of one whole generation.

Peidong Sun is Associate Professor in the department of History at Fudan University.