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Banished to the Great Northern Wilderness: Political Exile and Re-education in Mao's China

Ning Wang



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Cornell University Press
15 September 2017
History; Asian history
After Mao Zedong's Anti-Rightist Campaign of 1957-58, Chinese intellectuals were subjected to re-education by the state. In Banished to the Great Northern Wilderness, Ning Wang draws on labor farm archives, interviews, and memoirs to provide a remarkable look at the suffering and complex psychological world of these banished Beijing intellectuals. Wang's use of newly uncovered Chinese-language sources challenges the concept of the intellectual as renegade martyr, showing how exiles often declared allegiance to the state for self-preservation. While Mao's campaign victimized the banished, many of those same people also turned against their comrades. Wang describes the ways in which the state sought to remold the intellectuals, and he illuminates the strategies the exiles used to deal with camp officials and improve their chances of survival.
By:   Ning Wang
Imprint:   Cornell University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 17mm
Weight:   28g
ISBN:   9781501713187
ISBN 10:   1501713183
Pages:   300
Publication Date:   15 September 2017
Recommended Age:   From 18 years
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

Ning Wang is Associate Professor of History at Brock University.

Reviews for Banished to the Great Northern Wilderness: Political Exile and Re-education in Mao's China

This is the best scholarly book I've read about the experiences of those banished to penal camps in Mao's China. Wang reveals the dynamic interplay between rightists, camp guards, camp officials, and local and central authorities. He also illuminates the long-term human toll of banishment in all of its complexity. -- Jeremy Brown, coeditor of <I>Maoism at the Grassroots</I> In this important, nuanced, and humane account of life within Chinese penal camps, Ning Wang complicates our picture of banished intellectuals by portraying them as complex human beings forced by circumstances to make some very difficult moral compromises. -- Frank Dikoetter, author of <I>Mao's Great Famine </I> This is a marvelously level-headed book. Until the concluding chapter, Ning Wang is restrained in describing horrors on the individual level and devastation in terms of the impact on the general society. But finally the pulling of punches ends, and we are asked to try to imagine 'the waste of human talent.' * The China journal * Wang's exploration of political exiles in Mao's China incorporates his exhaustive research into a truly beautiful narrative, full of individual voices, that is every bit as raw and moving as Yan's novel. The careful but deeply thoughtful readings of sources-recollections from captives, cadres, and guards, supplemented by official documents-makes Banished to the Great Northern Wilderness indispensable reading for anyone who wants to understand the history of the People's Republic of China (PRC). * Historical Studies in Education * Ning Wang's work inspires us to rethink thought and labour reform in China as part of a larger global history that continues to evolve. * Pacific Affairs * Wang Ning has presented us with an extremely rich study of beidahuang, and the transparency of his deployment of sources, as well as his acknowledgement of their limits, ensures this book will remain relevant and valuable in the long term.... Given the details he has from such a range of survivors of beidahuang, Wang's book is highly relevant to broader questions of how political prisoners experienced their sentence and life after release, on transitional justice, and on trauma and memory.... The first authoritative work on the topic. * The PRC History Review * A fine piece of scholarly work contributing to knowledge of life within Chinese penal camps. The reading is essential to students and scholars of political banishment, China's labor reformatory, Chinese intellectuals and the Communist Party, and China studies under Mao in general. * Choice *

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