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The Cultural Revolution

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the decade of upheaval in China under Mao's revolt within his own party, led at first by the Red Guards, from 1966 until his death in 1976

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Chairman Mao and the revolt he led within his own party from 1966, setting communists against each other, to renew the revolution that he feared had become too bourgeois and to remove his enemies and rivals. Universities closed and the students formed Red Guard factions to attack the 'four olds' - old ideas, culture, habits and customs - and they also turned on each other, with mass violence on the streets and hundreds of thousands of deaths. Over a billion copies of Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book were printed to support his cult of personality, before Mao himself died in 1976 and the revolution came to an end.

The image above is of Red Guards, holding The Little Red Book, cheering Mao during a meeting to celebrate the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution at Tiananmen Square, Beijing, August 1966


Rana Mitter
Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China and Fellow of St Cross College, University of Oxford

Sun Peidong
Visiting Professor at the Center for International Studies at Sciences Po, Paris


Julia Lovell
Professor in Modern Chinese History and Literature at Birkbeck, University of London

Produced by Simon Tillotson and Julia Johnson

Available now

48 minutes

Last on

Thu 17 Dec 2020 21:30


Julia Lovell at Birkbeck, University of London

Rana Mitter at the University of Oxford

Peidong Sun at Sciences Po, Paris

Cultural Revolution propaganda posters –

Mao Zedong online resources - Weatherhead East Asian Institute of Columbia University

Red Color News Soldier – A Photographic Exhibition of the Cultural Revolution

Morning Sun – A Documentary Collection of the Cultural Revolution

Cultural Revolution – Wikipedia


Nien Cheng, Life and Death in Shanghai (first published 1987; Flamingo 2007)

Alexander C. Cook (ed.), Mao’s Little Red Book: A Global History (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

Frank Dikotter, The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962—1976 (Bloomsbury, 2016)

Gail Hershatter, The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past. Vol. 8. (University of California Press, 2014)

Denise Y. Ho, Curating Revolution: Politics on Display in Mao's China (Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Wessie Ling and Simone Segre-Reinach (eds.), Making Fashion in Multiple Chinas: Chinese Styles in the Transglobal Landscape (I.B. Tauris Press, 2018), especially "Textiles and apparel in the Mao years: Uniformity, variety and the limits of autarchy" by Antonia Finnane and Peidong Sun

Julia Lovell, Maoism: A Global History (Bodley Head, 2019)

Roderick Macfarquhar and Michael Schoenhals, Mao’s Last Revolution (Harvard University Press, 2006)

Barbara Mittler, A Continuous Revolution: Making Sense of Cultural Revolution Culture (Brill, 2020)

Elizabeth Perry and Li Xun, Proletarian Power: Shanghai in the Cultural Revolution (Routledge, 2018)

Elizabeth J. Perry, Anyuan: Mining China's Revolutionary Tradition Vol. 24. (University of California Press, 2012)

Peidong Sun, Fashion and Politics: Everyday Clothing Choices in Guangdong during the Cultural Revolution (People’s Publishing House, 2013)

Andrew Walder, China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed (Harvard University Press, 2015)

Andrew G. Walder, Agents of Disorder: Inside China’s Cultural Revolution (Harvard University Press, 2019)

Guobin Yang, The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China (Columbia University Press, 2016)

Rae Yang, Spider Eaters (University of California Press, 1998)

Yiching Wu, The Cultural Revolution at the Margins (Harvard University Press, 2014)


  • Thu 17 Dec 2020 09:00
  • Thu 17 Dec 2020 21:30

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