Eating Bitterness: New Perspectives on China's Great Leap Forward and Famine (Contemporary Chinese Studies)

Eating Bitterness: New Perspectives on China's Great Leap Forward and Famine (Contemporary Chinese Studies)

Kimberley Ens Manning, Felix Wemheuer

Language: English

Pages: 333

ISBN: 2:00076502

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

When the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949, Mao Zedong declared that "not even one person shall die of hunger." Yet some 30 million peasants died of starvation and exhaustion during the Great Leap Forward. Eating Bitterness reveals how men and women in rural and urban settings, from the provincial level to the grassroots, experienced the changes brought on by the party leaders' attempts to modernize China. This landmark volume lifts
the curtain of party propaganda to expose the suffering of citizens and the deeply-contested nature of state-society relations in Maoist China.





















often more daring and avant-garde than were those in the field of literature, at the end of the Cultural Revolution, the focus of the debate on issues related to understanding China’s twentieth century shifted from Re-Imagining the Chinese Peasant 43 the field of historiography to the field of literature. This is true of the literature of the wounded (shanghen wenxue), which was the first form of writing that tried to come to terms with the Cultural Revolution, and it is also true of the

the concurrent need to maintain agricultural production in the newly formed People’s Communes. No female tractor drivers appear in the poems selected for Red Flag Ballads, but there are poems depicting young men and women (frequently referred to in the love-song personae of ge “elder brother” and mei “younger sister”) matching each other in feats of labour. For example, the man digging up soil and the woman carrying it away: “Hauling a thousand loads and not feeling tired … She is a heroine

activism and leadership. One of the key reasons that Marxist maternalist policies were ignored, defied, and, in some cases, transformed in Huoyue, Wenhe, and Gaoshan during the late 1950s was because of the way in which grassroots women leaders were recruited and trained in CCP organizations and Party families during the formative first years of the People’s Republic. In the early 1950s, many of the Party’s earliest recruits in areas newly “liberated” did not choose to become activists at all,

to have profound implications. On the one hand, it would seem that Zhang was plagued by self-doubt as a leader. She repeatedly stressed her illiteracy as evidence of her lack of ability. Like Xiu and many other former women’s heads whom I interviewed, Zhang could not read or write. She compared herself to her mother-in-law, who, she said, learned how to read in a literacy training class, and to her husband. “I learned from my husband,” she said: “If you are illiterate, you are really obedient. I

into question. Some people argued that the grain, oil, and meat policies of the state made it clear that the Party loved the cities and workers but that it treated the “The Grain Problem Is an Ideological Problem” 121 countryside and the peasants unfairly (kuidai nongcun he nongmin). A cadre said: “The industrial products are expensive, but the agricultural products are cheap. The workers get a fixed salary per month, but the peasants are suffering every day. The workers and cadres enjoy all

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